iOS 6.1 released today

Apple has released iOS 6.1 today. It seems that some issues have been fixed for VoiceOver users.

  • Fixed VO focus issue while navigating the Home screens.
  • Fixed VO will save language setting when changed using the Rotor.
  • Fixed VO will save custom labels.
  • Fixed VO background music in app not choppy.
  • Fixed VO calendar will now display number of events in month view.
  • Fixed VO remembers Screen Curtain state.
  • Fixed VO now more responsive on older devices.

You can update your iOS device by going to the Setting app.

Now go to General and then Software Update.  It will search for the new iOS.

Once it has been found you will see a button that says Download and Install you will want to activate this button and it will install the new iOS.  Please note that the button may just say Install if your device has already downloaded the iOS.  That is fine just activate it and you will be off and running.

Keep watching for more information.

iPad iPhone curriculum

This curriculum was adapted for k-12 or any blind user, from the Hines VA Hospital. This curriculum will take you through all the basic functions of the iPad and iPhone.

You will need to add this item to your cart on the TechVision site and then checkout.  It is free of charge and they will not ask you for any payment information.

 http://www.yourtechvision.com/products/ipad-iphone-curriculum

AirServer

AirServer is an AirPlay receiver for Mac/PC. It allows you to receive AirPlay feeds, similar to an Apple TV, so you can stream content or Mirror your display from your iOS devices or Mountain Lion.

AirServer now delivers full 1080p HD mirroring and is faster and more powerful than ever. The update for AirServer is free for existing users, and gives you more features to make the things you do every day even better.

AirServer for PC hits version 1.0 and is now feature complete, with audio, movie and photo streaming. All good things come to those who wait.  

Check out AirServer at http://www.airserverapp.com/

iPad VO Controller

Student using the VO Controller

RJ Cooper has created the iPad VO Controller.  The iPad VO (VoiceOver) Controller is a switch interface that connects to an iDevice through Bluetooth using VoiceOver.

Now some caveats:

  • You can only move to the ‘next’ screen object (button, field, list item, etc.) with the right arrow, or ‘back’ an object with the left arrow. There is no up/down, so you must go through everything on the screen many times to get to the bottom right of the screen. If you have long lists, it could take a long time to make it through with a switch interface. This is especially noticeable with the iOS keyboard.
  • Currently, with the VO Controller, there is no hold-down mode (auto-repeat). This will be added this option early in 2013 so the user will be able to hold down one of my buttons to move through multiple screen objects.
  • Not all apps are VO-compatible, even Apple’s.

Learn More by watching the following video:

Read more at http://www.rjcooper.com/ipad-vo-controller/index.html

Tactile Screen Protector for iPad 2nd and 3rd Generation

Tactile Screen Protector for iPad 2nd and 3rd Generation

This is the Speed Dots tactile screen protector for the iPad. It is compatible with all models of the new iPad as well as the iPad 2nd Generation. It is not compatible with the 1st generation iPad.

Tactile markings, similar in touch to braille dots, can be found on frequently used buttons and tabs located on the top and bottom of the screen in most apps. You will find the markings line up with native apps, as well as many found in the App Store.

The SpeedDots Tactile Screen Protector for the iPad is designed for use in portrait orientation exclusively.

Learn more at http://tinyurl.com/c8fwlxh

Grants for iDevices

There are a many places that specialize in getting funds to children who need them. Applying for an iPad through these organizations is not a guarantee, but it’s worth a shot!

  • Little Bear Gives: Little Bear Gives is sponsoring grants to get iPads to children with CVI.
  • Babies with iPads: This site collects donations and purchases iPads for children with significant developmental and/or medical issues. The grants are rewarded as the funds are available.
  • Conover Company: The Conover Mobile Technology Grant is designed to help people with disabilities (adults and children) lead more independent lives. You can fill out their application online.
  • Different Needz Foundation: This organization raises money throughout the year to fund their grant program. Their grants go to families with children with special needs. You can tell them specifically what you want (such as an iPad) and how much it will cost.
  • First Hand Foundation: First Hand will help children with special needs fund assistive technology equipment (among other things) that isn’t covered by your insurance. They do have financial guidelines.
  • Gia Nicole Angel Foundation: This program helps by purchasing a specific item for children with special needs. Funds are awarded on a case by case basis with preference given to lower income and single parent families.
  • Gracie’s Hope: Gracie’s Hope is committed to help improve the lives of children with special needs. They can help provide needed equipment not covered by insurance.
  • Hanna’s Helping Hands: This grant is aimed at helping low-income families with children with special needs. They focus on Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas City Metropolitan Area, Michigan, Rhode Island, and New York.
  • iHelp for Special Needs: This program provides iPads and iPad apps to families with children with special needs.
  • The Lindsay Foundation: The Lindsay Foundation is a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to assist families with resources necessary to provide medical treatment, therapies and rehabilitative equipment in order to improve the quality of life for their special needs children.
  • LoudMommy: This site is dedicated to helping children who are non-verbal. They grant iPads to children who could use them to aid communication.
  • Maggie Welby Foundation: This foundation offers grants for children and families that have a financial need for a particular purpose. If awarded, they will purchase the item for you.
  • Small Steps in Speech: The mission of Small Steps in Speech is to help children with speech and/or language disorders take the steps needed to be better communicators. They offer grants to purchase communication devices (including iPads).
  • Special Kids Therapy: Special Kids Therapy’s mission is to serve children with various developmental, physical and/or emotional difficulties and their families, principally by raising money for therapies and services not covered by private/public insurance.
  • Zane’s Foundation: This site provides grants to families with children with special needs in Northeast Ohio. The geographic location is limited, but the grant can be used for anything related to your child’s needs, including an iPad.

The autism community has been especially vocal about the benefits of the iPad and because of this there are many grants aimed specifically at getting iPads for children with autism. If your child is diagnosed with autism, you may want to look into these grants:

  • Autism Care & Treatment: ACT awards quarterly grants between $100 and $5,000 to families with children with autism.
  • Autism Cares: Autism Cares sponsors a technology grant to purchase tech equipment for children with autism.
  • HollyRod Foundation: The HollyRod Foundation will assist families with children with autism in obtaining adaptive equipment (including iPads).
  • iTaalk: iTaalk’s tag line is “giving children with autism a voice… one iPad at a time!”
  • Let’s Chat Autism: Let’s Chat Autism sponsors an “iPad’s for Autism” grant.
This list was taken from http://www.wonderbaby.org/articles/ipad-funding-special-needs

Redefining Instruction With Technology: Five Essential Steps

By Jennie Magiera

This is re-posted from EdWeek.org

In the fall of 2010, I was awarded a grant that brought 32 iPads to my classroom. I had high hopes that this would revolutionize teaching and learning in my class. These devices would help me to create a magical, collaborative learning environment that met all my students’ individual needs. These seemed like lofty goals—but they all came true. Eventually. First, I had to learn a hard lesson: Just bringing new technology in your classroom and working it into day-to-day routines isn’t enough.

The iPads arrived two days before my students, and I quickly made plans to integrate them into our curriculum. Despite my high hopes, the next two months were less than successful. A casual observer would have witnessed a sea of students glued to glistening tablets, but the effects were superficial. The iPads were not helping my students make substantial progress toward self-efficacy, academic achievement, or social-emotional growth. Around the end of September, I took a step back—it was time to evaluate and reflect on what was happening.

I asked myself: “What have we been doing so far with this technology?” Students used math apps instead of math card games. They’d made slideshow presentations for isolated units. They’d done some research on the Internet. In short, things were going … OK. Nothing to write home about. Not what I would consider “worthy” of a $20,000 grant. Clearly it was time for a change.

The problem, I began to realize, was my own understanding of how the iPads should be utilized in the classroom. I had seen them as a supplement to my pre-existing curriculum, trying to fit them into the structure of what I’d always done. This was the wrong approach: To truly change how my classroom worked, I needed a technology-based redefinition of my practice.

A year and a half later, I know a little more about what that really means. Here are five lessons I’ve learned about redefining classroom instruction with technology—whether iPads or other tools.

Break down to rebuild. As terrifying as it may sound, the first step is to take a proverbial sledgehammer to your existing classroom framework. This realization was a turning point for me. I would have to be willing to depart from what I had “always done” or “always taught.” I needed to review my program with the power of my new tools in mind. By setting aside my pre-conceived notions of how my classroom “should” look, sound, and feel, I was able to transform my practice from the ground up.

Redefine with a goal in mind. When rethinking your curriculum and classroom, identify the goals you have for yourself and your students. I focused on two important goals: increased differentiation and robust, efficient assessment. Next, I asked myself, “Can the iPads help me reach those goals?” Realizing that they could, I redesigned my classroom practice around the goals, with iPads as the infrastructure. Here are a few examples:

• I created interactive video mini-lessons to increase differentiation.

• I used online student surveys and audio/visual apps such as Toontastic to allow my students to voice their emotions, curiosities, and academic goals in private.

• To redefine assessment and differentiation, I employed websites such as Google Docs and Edmodo to create a faster feedback loop. These sites utilize color coding, instantaneous feedback, and automatic student grouping to allow me to immediately analyze data. I can enact same-day differentiation—no need to spend an evening reviewing paper-and-pencil exit tickets.

Get more app for your money. I also asked myself the question: “What can I do with these devices that would be impossible to do without them?” In other words, I was hoping to create new teaching methods rather than just replacing old ones.

I moved away from content apps, such as Rocket Math or Math Ninja, which are very engaging but only address a handful of standards. Once a student has mastered the relevant standard(s), such apps only serve as practice—and the data I can collect from them is limited.

Instead, I focused on student-creation apps. Moving beyond replacing paper math games with flashy math apps, students are now creating their own math videos, writing math blogs, and conducting challenge-based-learning math projects.

For example, the app Educreations allows students to record notations on a virtual whiteboard along with their narration, generating a multimedia lesson or problem explanation. This app can be used to address standards in all subjects and engages students at the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy: creation. Other versatile creation apps and programs include Toontastic, iMovie, Garage Band, PaperPort Notes, Kabaam, Popplet, and Aurasma Lite.

Embrace failure. Last year gave me an invaluable lesson in celebrating failure. When the iPad integration didn’t go as I’d initially hoped, I had the rich experience of reflecting and restarting. I teach my students to evaluate their own incorrect math strategies to better appreciate the beauty of one that works. Similarly, I had to fail—and take a good long look at that failure—to truly understand why what I’m doing now works. To be honest, I know that I still have a lot of room for improvement. I’m sure I have more failure in my near future and I can’t wait.

So if you begin to implement a new app in your classroom and it falls flat, react by asking yourself what you’ve learned. Welcome your students into this culture of learning from adversity. By creating a safe, open environment and by being clear that this endeavor is as foreign to you as it is to them, you encourage risk taking—and greater achievements.

Enjoy the results, reflect towards the future. After redefining my classroom, the iPads were out all day, every day. They were being pushed to their limit so that my students could be pushed to theirs. This effort paid off: 10 times as many of my students scored at the 90th percentile or above on the 2011 state test as compared to the 2010 state test. I saw students become active agents in their own learning—because they now had choices about the methods that worked best for them. Kids who’d professed to hate school were now eager to engage in the classroom. One student wrote in her daily reflection, “[iPads] make me want to come to school every day because I know that Ms. Magiera has a lesson just for me.”

These “wins” were a source of euphoria for me as an educator, but I also know that there is more to do, more to learn, more to try. Our classrooms must grow and evolve to meet the fluctuating needs of our students and take advantage of the ever-changing array of technological tools.

Someone recently asked me, “What do you predict the classroom of the future will look like?” I had to say, if I could predict what’s in the future classroom, I’d be sorely disappointed. I love being surprised by new developments in technology and pedagogy. Classroom redefinition is an ongoing process, and I can’t wait to discover what tomorrow brings.

Jennie Magiera is a 4th and 5th grade math teacher and a technology and mathematics curriculum coach in Chicago Public Schools. A Teacher Leaders Network member, Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction, and Apple Distinguished Educator, she explores best practices in math pedagogy and technology in her blog, Teaching Like It’s 2999, and on Twitter @msmagiera.

Steve Jobs: President Obama pays tribute

Barack Obama, President of the United States

Steve Jobs

Michelle and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Jobs. Steve was among the greatest of American innovators

—brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.

By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun. And by turning his talents to storytelling, he has brought joy to millions of children and grownups alike. Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.

The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Steve’s wife Laurene, his family, and all those who loved him.