A School Psychologist's resource for all things tech.

Archive for April, 2013

Know where to find Apps Part 2

This post is a continuation of Part 1 – Know where to find Apps.  The reason I separated these resources from the others is because these resources are not limited to apps even though I often find information about great app from them.  These resources are a part of my Personal Learning Community (PLC) and they inspire me to be the best educator I can be every single day. If you aren’t a part of these communities I recommend you join them 5 seconds ago.  I’m not joking. Join now. Right now.

Twitter

I promise, Twitter is not just about Charlie Sheen “winning” and the Kardashians. You choose who you want to follow so if you follow Charlie Sheen or the Kardashians then they will cloud up your feed but you can choose to fill your feed with quality people sharing quality information.  If you don’t know who to follow find one person to follow, like me (@everbeke ) and then look at who I follow or who follows me. What’s great about twitter is you can find one person that you think is awesome and then find people that also find people who think their awesome (their followers) and then see who the awesome person thinks are other awesome people (who they follow).  Throughout the week there are many many “chats” that happen using hashtags (#) which can be great conversations to participate in or just to watch and learn from.  Cybraryman (@cybraryman) has a comprehensive list of educational hashtags.  Below are some short videos about the uses of twitter in education

Pinterest

Pinterest is similar to twitter in that you follow/subscribe to people and/or boards and then when people you follow pin or repin those pins will show up in you feed.  Just as with twitter, if you don’t know who to follow or which boards to follow then find someone you like and see who they follow or which boards they follow.  You can start with me. You can either choose to follow all of my boards or choose to follow just a few of my boards such as School Psychology, AT, TechTuesday Inspiration


Scoop.ItScoop.It is a content curation platform.  I’ll admit that I’m not curating any content but I am following some great curators.  While I could log-in to Scoop.It every day and view a feed of the curators I follow but I currently don’t, instead I let Scoop.It send me a daily email.  This is one email, from the hundreds I receive every day that I actually read every time it comes to my inbox. The curators I follow have proven to me that they share great info every day that I do not want to miss. I would recommend following John Evan’s iPad in Education and Heather Peretz’s Tech Tidbits for Teachers SMS

Any other resources you draw upon that you couldn’t imagine life without in your professional life?

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Know where to find reliable Apps

As a part of my consultation post, I touched on the fact that as school psychologists we don’t have to know all of the best apps, nor do we have the time to be experts on the best apps but we should know where to find reliable information about apps.  This is the same skill set as knowing where to find resources to share with parents about depression or anxiety, information about  research-based interventions, etc., is applicable to assistive technology resources (low tech to high tech).

I promise I don’t spend hours combing through iTunes finding the latest and greatest apps but I stay tuned in to resources that have proven to me to be reliable sources.  Here are some of the places I find great App information.

Screenshot of Tags from iEar.org. Retrieved 4/1/13

Screenshot of Tags from iEar.org. Retrieved 4/1/13

I Educational App Reviews (iEAR )- www.iear.org

iEAR provides app reviews written by teachers. Imagine that, educational apps reviewed by teachers.  They also have a group of app reviews done by students.  I find the reviews to be honest and thus helpful.  I also find that the do a great job of “tagging” their posts so they have lists of topics, app content areas, grade levels, etc. to help you find what you’re looking for quickly and easily

iTeach Special Education – iDevices in Special Education (Facebook group) – https://www.facebook.com/groups/iTeachSpecialEducation/

iTeach Special Education is a Facebook group so you need to have a Facebook account if you want to subscribe to their group.  This is a group of educators and parents working to integrate iDevices in to their work with special education students.  Great resources and information is shared within this group. I’ve posted questions about apps in this group and on Twitter and received responses back which helped me decide whether I wanted to purchase an app or not.

Screenshot from AppyMall's AppyStores. Retrieved on 4/1/2013

Screenshot from AppyMall’s AppyStores. Retrieved on 4/1/2013

AppyMall – www.appymall.com

Now a word of caution about AppyMall, they promote any and all education apps and sometimes the app they promote are junk. What I do like about AppyMall is that they’ve started putting collections of apps together by professionals such as Speech and Language Pathologists. So while I take each app they discuss with a grain of salt I tend to think the apps they review and promote in their app collections are good sources of information.  Another thing AppyMall does well is the share when apps go on sale. AppyMall also has a facebook group which is a great way to keep up on sales and giveaways that are sometimes only available for hours.

So I found an app I like, now I buy it right?

When I’m considering purchasing an app I usually go a step further an read AppStore reviews but a word of caution about AppStore reviews. For better or worse some app developers pay for reviews.  I’m typically skeptical when an app has 6 or 11 reviews that say about the same thing and are all 4 or 5 stars. I find value in apps that have a range of reviews because it tells me real people reviewed the app and I also know and value that everyone has different opinions and this would apply to apps as well.

Look for a Part 2 post in the coming days for additional places I find information about Apps and resources.

Autism Awareness

In the educational realm, most people know that April is Autism Awareness Month.  There are  many public relation activties going on to raise awareness around autism such as Autism Speaks’ Light It Up Blue campaign.  World Autism Day is actually today, April 2nd.  I know many of us work very hard every single day to support students with autism by working directly with students, working with parents, improving educator awareness around autism and so today is not that different than every other day. Also, even though I’m on spring break I know that my students at home with autism don’t have a day off from their autism because it is World Autism Day or Autism Awareness Month. I know there are parents, sibling, family members and caretakers at home today that will experience the range of emotions that come every day in the lives of families impacted by autism.  So while I know for some families, today is just like any other day, I hope that families and educators can remember and celebrate some of the laughs, joy and smiles that surround working with students with autism. I know I’ve reminisced about a few humorous recent events.

I can personally reflect on my own increased awareness and understanding of Autism just this year.  I’ve spent many hours this year in professional development sessions focused on understanding the difference between ASD and Emotional Impairments, or ASD and ADHD or ASD and Cognitive Impairments.  Our district also provided us with the great opportunity to be trained in using the ADOS-2 which reinforced a lot of previous knowledge but provided new learning for me.  With my new knowledge and reinforced previous knowledge, I’m able to approach tech resources for students, parents and educators better.  One such example is in a drafts posts about digital social stories and I’ll make a point to finish and publish that post during April. But for today there are great apps on sale that I’m going to download, check out and see if they are good or not.  You should take advantage of these sales now too in case an app that I review later is really good but has gone back up in price. If it isn’t a worthwhile app then I’ll let you know you can and should delete it.

Here are some autism awareness and world autism day resources:

Enjoy looking at all of the apps that are on sale, learning great new information or reaffirming previous knowledge today and throughout the month of April. And if you haven’t turned your facebook, twitter, linkedin account Blue yet, do it now!

Doodle – Find a Common Time to Meet

Doodle LogoYou mean Google, right? Nope. I meant to say Doodle. Have you ever had a hard time find a common meeting time for the entire IEP team? Wow! Me too! Doodle has been a great solution for me and it can be a great solution for you.  First of all Doodle is FREE.  So that is a plus. Also it is easy to use.

Anyone, without setting up an account (you can set up an account but it isn’t required), can start a doodle. The person coordinating the meeting would go in to doodle and choose all of the available dates and times. Usually the person setting up the doodle knows about special times for the general ed teacher, lunch schedules, staff meeting dates and times, etc.  Offering options that aren’t going to be available for required team members, such as the general ed teacher, are counter productive.  Once all of the dates are identified and inputted then a URL is created.  The URL can be emailed out to the entire team and each individual uses the link to go in and view available times.  Based on schedules and current availability team members can indicate their availability just by clicking a checkbox.  Once everyone has weighed in on their availability the coordinator can go back in to the doodle and easily see what dates are available for everyone – hopefully you can find at least one time available for everyone. Depending on a variety of factors some parents are included in the initial weigh-in on dates or other times the teacher contacts the parents with the couple of options that are available for everyone.

Doodle Example

Photo Caption: Photo from Doodle.com

You can’t quite avoid those times when two meetings are scheduled simultaneously for the same date and time but Doodle helps alleviate the flood of  “Reply All” emails that can inundate you when teams are attempting to schedule meetings for the whole team. Happy Scheduling!

P.S. Once you’re at the meeting use any or all of your ToDo list, notetaking, or project management apps to keep you organized and on-top of it all.

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