Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Apps for Math

Having some good math apps is really important to me. I hate giving math worksheets to the kiddos. The amount of busywork that this leads into for me to grade all of those problems on each worksheet is a nightmare. I hate grading. However, I know the kids need to practice. Especially when it comes to learning the facts. I can't do discrete trials all day though, so here is where the iPad becomes my best friend. I love the apps that collect data, work on skills in a meaningful way, and make the kiddos enjoy it and actually want to play! These are my tried and true math app successes. 

Do you remember yesterday when I said that I had one app that mixed literacy and math? This app is my all time favorite app I have ever purchased. I know, I know, lots of great free apps out there but give this one a moments thought. 

Here it is, the TeachMe apps. I have the Kindergarten level and the second grade level. Purchased separately, levels range from toddler-third grade, each $1.99. What I love about them is that you can add up to 40 students and the data collects for each when independently. Each app has different subjects, and they do build upon each other. Teachers can go in and turn on or off different subjects if you want the child to be focusing on  a specific skill. The data is golden, you can pick how many questions in a row the child needs to answer correctly in order to identify the question as learned. I think thats a great feature that goes well with my IEP goals. I always write something like "over 3 consecutive trials" and this aligns perfectly with the app. All I have to do is set it up to match my goals and  I have a perfect independent center going. The sight words are done in discrete trials (see picture below) the math has digital counters at this level as well as multiple choice! In the second grade app there is long addition and subtraction. These subjects have a virtual chalkboard and the app has a smart reader to analyze the child's answer for accuracy. A few of my kiddos with poor handwriting skills had a problem with this, just to bear in mind. 

The kiddos love the app because not only is it engaging, but there is a coin reward center. When they earn enough coins they can "purchase stickers" for a virtual sticker board. How cool?

When I am not using this app for addition and subtraction, I have the kids use the Hungry Fish app. This app challenges kids to think of the different ways to create a sum of a given number. It is free, however there are in app purchases for subtraction levels and negative levels. I just go with the free version, and I love it! Simple, fun, and engaging, it doesn't even seem like work!

This app works perfect for learning number order and its free. This is much easier than taking out a velcro number line. The numbers go through 199, and you can pick from 10-20 tiles. 

Another free app and the final one I am going to recommend. Of course I need to mention multiplication and here is a fun, game like, way to work on the facts. What is interesting about this one is that the answer is given to the child, and he or she needs to pick the numbers (from a small field of 4 numbers to start but it does get larger) that multiply to the given product. Certainly the child already needs to have some skill with his or her facts to be successful in this app. There is also an addition level, same idea. 

Thats all the apps I use in my classroom regularly! I do have a few others I pull out during specific lessons, however, I try to stick to these as often as I can so that the students begin making progress within the apps that collect data. What apps do you use, do you have any recommendations for me? 

Don't forget to come back and check out my tried and true educational websites!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Apps for Literacy

I love teaching literacy. I have a few apps that I could not say enough about and they are all I really use.  I am going to recommend apps for fluency, sight words, comprehension, and spelling. A few good apps are much more important than a lot of free ones. A few of these cost money but they give me great data and seem to truly support practice and and learning of the skills they cover. 

FluencyK12 Timed Reading Practice By K12 Inc.

This App is a great app to practice reading fluency for learners who are reading at k-4th grade reading levels. It costs $1.99 In the settings you can add multiple students and choose their starting reading level. Once chosen, the child or teacher clicks on his or her name and begins reading a short story. The timer is set, and on the last page the child clicks done to mark the end of the reading. Finally the following screen is shown giving you the wpm of the students reading. Data can be saved on the reader within the app.

Sight Words: Sight Words by Photo Touch by

     This App is perfect for sight word discrete trials and free! It has a simple and clean format, and it is highly customizable. You can choose which word group library to work on from preschool to third grade or even be working on multiple grade word lists. There is a feature where you can select a maximum and/or minimum of word choices will be displayed. You can even go into a word list and turn on/off selected words. Further, you can change the audio of the word to your own voice. In SpEd, I spend so much time working on sight words. This makes it so easy to customize a quick trial without writing out endless light words on flashcards. Not to mention the electronic format is highly motivating to my kiddos 😉

       This is my favorite app so far. I love working on question answering! Unfortunately you can only collect data on one student at a time and the data does not build over time. That being said, I love that you can target one specific wh/how question or a random selection. There are three levels of questioning. All levels have a question and a picture to examine in order to answer. In level one, you can select from 3 answers. By level 3, you are selecting from 5 answers. You need to listen to the question carefully in order to pick the best answer. You can select color code, text, and/or audio reinforcement. My kids crack up at the graphics when the get an answer correct.  This is a pricey app at $5.99 but I would say it is well worth the price. If you look at the final image you can even see the students stats on specific questions. Great data collection!

Spelling: Rocket Speller By Little Big Thinkers

My kids love practicing spelling. This app looks more like a game then it does a learning task and it means that it is favored by my kiddos. They love the space theme and its totally free. There is an alien who does all the audio reinforcement, what a hoot! There are 5 levels in this app:

1: 3-6 letter words. Place letters in any order. Audible and visual hints.

2: 3-10 letter words. Order required. Audible and visual hints.
3: 3-4 letter words. Order required. Audible hints. Adaptive assistance.
4: 5-6 letter words. Correct order required. Adaptive assistance only.
5: 7-10 letter words. Correct order required. Adaptive assistance only.

The visual hints means that you drag the letter to its spot by matching. There is also a picture of each word as it is requested.Adaptive assistance is smart technology that recognizes when a player is struggling and provides audible hints. It is a fun and simple spelling app for kids, and they are now offering a "Plus" app for 2.99 that includes phonics and sight words. As you go you earn parts to a rocket ship and once its built (I think after 12 words?) the student plays a mini-game by steering it through space to collect stars. Pretty awesome. 

Well I love literacy so much that tomorrow, during Apps for Math, I am going to share an app that has both literacy AND math. I know I love the apps I've shared so far. But I will say this is my ultimate favorite of all the apps I am going to share. So don't forget to come back for more!

My Best,


Monday, July 29, 2013

Sites for Learning with Sensory Play

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I have spent a great deal of time deciding how I am going to move forward with this blog. Probably too much, honestly, I over think everything! Regardless, I am beginning this week with a series of posts on technology in special education. Today I am going to talk about two great sensory sites that I cannot recommend more highly. Truly exceptional sites for children with Autism and other special needs. But first, I would like to share with you my plans for this week.

And before I forget, make sure you return on Friday for a Freebie!

Okay, now onto the good stuff. 

Have you ever heard of Zac Browser? The site calls itself a virtual playground for children with Autism and I believe this description is fitting. If you think of the browser you typically use; such as safari, internet explorer, or firefox, you know that you as the user require a substantial amount of skill and web knowledge to access your destination. These browsers are not always accessible to students with disabilities or overly comfortable to those with sensory needs. Well, Zac Browser is a visually stimulating, child friendly version of a web browser. The best part: its free!

Zac Browser Games Page

So basically you start by going to their website and downloading the browser. It was simple, it took under five minutes, and it is PC and MAC friendly. When I clicked on the browser after it had been downloaded, I was taken to a virtual aquarium. Wicked cool! On the bottom, which you can see in the image above, is 8 linked buttons for children: Aquarium (our current location), television, games, music, stories, activities, Zac Apps, Surprise. Each page offers further visual choices such as the screen shown above which is the games page. I clicked through a few games, super fun and easy to use. All of the activities are educational and skill based. You can make music with a virtual keyboard on the music page, and there is all kinds of different instruments to switch through. The TV was kid-friendly and offered an educational button as well. I can imagine having this loaded onto my classroom computer and being able to provide so much computer independence because of its user-friendly format! 

Okay even better news (if this wasn't already the coolest thing ever) Zac Browser Gold is available for FREE on the iPad!!! Who can resist? 

Alright I know you want to stop reading and go download Zac Browser but please be patient because I do have one more Sensory Play website to offer to you. 

Sensory World is a website for sensory play that is interactive and engaging. It offers activities and stimulating play environments in a virtual home and garden. Student can add moving images, sound, and colors in the sensory room.

Students can learn and practice different life skill topics such as, in the kitchen you can learn about nutrition, in the bathroom you can learn about hygiene, and in the garden you can learn about the different seasons. Or even in the hallway you can learn about money management! 

This is such an awesome resource! I love the different choices you have in this sensory environment as well as the learning opportunities that are embedded into it. I will definitely be using this when the school year begins! 

I am sure you can tell how thrilled I am about these two finds. Seriously, thrilled. Don't forget to return tomorrow so I can WOW you with some amazing Apps for literacy :D

My Best,