Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Blog Review #5

Blog Review #5

This is a blog created and operated by two special education teachers in the United States. A warning though; you could spend a really long time on their site browsing through all the resources they have compiled. Patrick Black and Jeremy have complied an extremely useful website that teachers of special education classes and otherwise would find valuable. Jeremy uses interactive whiteboards in his class as well as ipads. Patrick uses all kinds of technology in his classroom, and works to integrate technology into the classroom for the purposes of “communication, cognition, and socialization”. Patrick also creates podcasts, and speaks by request at schools and conferences. This blog has over one hundred thousand hits so many are following what these two talented teachers are doing.

The design of the blog itself is clean and simple with a few tabs on the top of the page to help navigate to the various sections. The sections include app reviews, resources, AT Blog Carnival, workshops, and information about Jeremy and Patrick. I spent a lot of time looking through their app reviews which they do regularly. After reviewing the apps they group them into appropriate categories so that you can find suitable apps easier. Categories for this include fine motor, classroom management, language/literacy, life skills, sensory integration, music etc. As mentioned earlier Patrick offers workshops for topics like creating PLN’s, google apps, ipod/iphone uses, and boardmaker.

The AT Blog Carnival is a type of blog community that I was unfamiliar with until coming across it at this website. Blog carnivals tend to collect links on a particular topic and share the information in a type of on-line magazine. Blog carnivals have topics, editors, contributors, and obviously an audience. This collaborative work is an attractive and engaging way to share material and resources with colleagues in education. Jeremy and Patrick have four blog carnivals that you can browse through which I found to be interesting.

Under the resources tab for their blog they have created various categories like accessibility, assistive technology, activity shares, inclusion, livebinders, professional development, twitter chats, and podcasts.

Patrick and Jeremy receive no money to endorse the products they review. They just offer their opinions and insight on applications they find useful. One app they convinced me to get on my ipod was Word Wizard, which I think might get my three year old reading and writing a little quicker! Or at the very least he might just have another way to interact with, and become familiar with letters and words. Word Wizard uses text to speech voices to help children learn how to spell words. The app specifically targets letter recognition, phonics, spelling and sentence construction. The app works really well and its simple interface makes learning how to use the app easy. Patrick and Jeremy typically review various aspects of an app and then offer a few suggestions for improvement. One suggestion they had for this app was to allow for additional voices (including your own voice). Right now the app uses a standard voice which you can manipulate a bit in the settings. It’s a great app and Patrick and Jeremy do a good job of finding resources and making them available to all who follow their blog.

I would recommend this blog to any teacher or parent interested in learning more about positive technology use in education. The site is very well organized and run by two special education teachers who are doing a great job at sharing their own professional development with the rest of us.

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