Using Popplet and YouTube in a Lesson Plan

Hello Everyone!

I recently completed a literacy based rhyming lesson plan with a group of first grade students using YouTube and the Popplet Visual Organizer App.  You can find a basic write up of the lesson plan here 

A visual example of how we created our classroom Popplet for this activity can be found below:


A video a demo of how students can use a Popplet to practice using pairing rhyming words

from this unit is found below:

Popplet YouTube Demo

Voice Over Bootcamp: Beginner Tips and Links, Part 1

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I think teaching Voice Over to students with almost no vision might be one of the hardest features for me to teach to my students on the iPad.  The hardest thing is that it is a brand new way of thinking about cursors for students who are blind.  In JAWS and other screen readers, we have a visual cursor that the screen reader can follow and read back auditorily for the  visually impaired user to follow.  However, in voice over, the cursor is entirely auditory and scans visual content on the ipad and reads back to the blind or visually impaired user. This can be a hard adjustment for any student or blind consumer who has just learned JAWS or other screen reading programs.  Anyway, in an attempt to teach one of my students who is quite technologically capable to use the iPad accessibility apps more fluently, I have dedicated the last month of school and our summer school ESY minutes to teaching (and relearning) the most effective ways to use Voice Over.  Here are a few tips I would recommend as we start out learning the 5 finger gestures from the video below from TVI, Denise Richardson.

1. Before introducing Voice Over, organize the apps the student uses the most on to the first page of the home screen.

2. Set the Voice Over speaking rate to a speed the consumer can handle.  I would say slower is better in the beginning just like any screen reading software or product feature

3. Explain the to student or consumer that they need to rely both on memory and auditory feedback from Voice Over to navigate the iPad.  This is where it is important to teach the user where all of their apps and features are located before starting.

4. As you introduce the 5 gestures to the student is going to need to learn to effectively use Voice Over, I would recommend bringing your own iPad in and working along side the student  with your own iPad so they can own their AT instruction.  It also give them auditory model so they can do some problem solving and auditory/tactual modeling.

Anyway, here is a great tip vidoe from Denise Richardson, TVI from Tech Vision on introducing the 5 different gestures beginning Voice Over users will need to learn.

As my student and I advance to the next lesson, I will post my insights in another post soon.

Home Automation: What’s New and Worth Looking Into

I recently returned from the Missouri Assistive Technology Power Up Conference in Columbia, MO.  I have started wanting to go to workshops in the areas of AT I have had little professional exposure.  One of these areas is Home Automation and Smart Design.  When approaching the idea of the recent products in Home Automation, I think it is important for me to state how much the wireless and “internet of things” trend has completely turned the world of Assistive Technology and Universal Design upside down.  Products that are coming out quicker then the AT field can test. However, it is also an exciting time to see how much the “internet of things” has opened the doors for people with disabilities to stay in their homes longer while also increasing the quality of their lives, despite the presence of a disability.  It is also a time to pay attention to what the leaders in AT and Universal Design are saying about the expanding reality of smart homes. I had the opportunity to listen to David Baker from Missouri Assistive Technology highlight the best in Home Automation and Smart Homes. Here are a few of my devices that are currently on the market from reputable companies:

1. Pixie Points: Helps You Find Lost Keys

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2.  The Nest:  A Smart Thermostat

Screenshot 2015-04-14 at 3.02.20 PM3.  Goji Smart Lock:

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4.  Home Depot’s Smart Home Hub

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My Favorite Tutorials On using OCR Apps and Software

This whole month has been about researching OCR (Optical Character Recognition).  I have a student on my caseload who relies on OCR to read her textbooks.  Myself and the other AT specialist have researched everything about OCR this month to help this student increase her efficiency and scanning.  Anyway,  I wanted to share a few of the most helpful tutorials about the latest OCR technology out there.  If you are a history buff like me, you can read about the history of OCR here.

Video about using OCR with an app on the iphone

A quick tutorial on using Capta Text App within search engines and on the hardware

An basic tutorial on using the Tesseract OCR Engine

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  3 iPhone OCR Apps Compared (click photo above)

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   How to OCR Documents into Google Drive (click photo above)

Voice Dream Reader and Writer: Activities for Student Buy-In

As many AT Specialists and Special Education teachers are aware of, an app is just app until a student is willing to use it as it was intended.  I have sat through many “App Presentations” over the years and think it is critical as teachers and AT specialists, we begin to teach each other to think about sharing idea on activities in which the students can use a specific app to complete a task.  This is an ongoing exploration and topic of point I keep looking for in my own pedagogue as well as with my fellow colleagues.

Today I am going to highlight two apps created for students with visual impairments for the purpose of reading and writing:  VoiceDream Reader and Writer.

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VoiceDream Writer is a word processing app with voice over features that include the following:

  • A word processing app with a variety of audio settings that can be customized to the needs of the user


  • Proof reading settings offer the user the ability to choose between proof reading settings that read for details (grammar, punctuations, etc) and reading naturally (reads the text at natural rate)


  • Visual settings include a variety of magnification and large contrast options


  • Dictionary options for students with print disabilities (word search search  based on definition of text, phonetic spelling, etc)


  • Speech to Text Options

Activity Ideas for Student Buy-In

  • Students compose text for a status update using VoiceDream Writer to put into a Twitter, Facebook Status Update or Text to friend


  • Students compose an email to a famous person using VoiceDream Writer and then emails it to him or her


  • Composing invitations for a social gathering


  • Have students insert text into a teacher or parent made Mad Libs word processing document


  • Compose text for a student’s favorite recipe or music lyrics

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VoiceDream Reader

Voice Dream Reader is a reading app with adapted voice over features for people with visual impairments. These features include:

  • Customized Audio and Visual Settings


  • Reading Speeds range from 100-400 words per minute


  • Visual Themes: White on Black and Black on White


  • Document Editing Capabilities


  • Customized document playlist available


  • Extracts files from web browser, Bookshare, Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc

Activities for Student Buy-In

  • Export your child or student’s favorite blogs, food recipes or ebooks and create a playlist for them to buy into the idea of using this app.  Then have them create several playlists for their various school subjects and free reading


  • Teach your child about the various apps that can be used with Voice Dream, let them do some research on each app that can be exported in the app and choose which one they would like to use in conjunction with Voice Dream Reader


  • Encourage them to use the app during silent reading times in their school routine. Make sure to give them head phones