EduNationCast 011: Should Bill Gates Stay Out of Education?

This week on The EduNationCast: Great discussion on whether or not the private sector belongs in education, plus we welcome innovator Lisa Highfill to the EduNationCast Roundtable!

This Week’s Contributors: James Sanders,  Jim Sill, Adam Bellow, and Dan Rezac. 

 Special Guests This Week: Lisa Highfill

The complete show notes can be found on the EdReach Wiki.




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aRTs Roundtable #2: Creating in the Music Classroom

This week on the aRTs Roundtable we discuss how we “create” in the music classroom by making purposeful projects. The music classroom is not just a performing class, but we create music in a variety of areas and subjects.

Show Host: Carol Broos

Show contributor: Jennifer Kolze

The complete show notes are now on the EdReach Wiki.


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LiTTech #7: Teachers and Information Literacy


This week on LiTTech: Emily and Adrienne chat about putting Information Literacy into classes outside the library and the correct way to teach peers new technology.

Show Host: Emily Thompson

Show contributors: Adrienne Matteson

The complete show notes are now on the EdReach Wiki.

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Just Try Something…and Share How It Goes


Making the move to a 1:1 environment this year at Burlington High School has been exciting.  The move has gotten us a lot of attention from area schools that want to come out and speak to our staff and students to see how we got this point.  Being a big proponent of sharing and the fact that we have a moral imperative to do so, we have welcomed everyone who has inquired about a visit.

During the course of each of these visits a question always arises about professional development and supporting teachers in the integration of new resources.  While I admit that I may be a bit simplistic in my approach, I do think that many schools are over-thinking this one. At BHS, we have cut back significantly on teacher duties that have nothing to to with teaching and also provided multiple options for support embedded throughout the school day for teachers to receive guidance as they try to integrate new resources.

My advice to all schools, whether you are 1:1 or not is to start utilizing some  of the many technological resources that are available. You should set a school-wide goal that all teachers will revise and replace dated curriculum and assessment methods with more vital contemporary forms at least once a semester, quarter, unit, or whatever you can agree upon.  Then in order to help build capacity make sure that there is a formal opportunity for teachers to share these changes that they have made.  If you are wondering where to get the time, I would recommend that my fellow administrators sacrifice one of those critical faculty meetings (SARCASM ALERT) to provide teachers the opportunity to share.

The bottom line is that, we are well past the time to discuss whether or not we should be embracing new tools and resources available due to modern technology.  Just try something…and share how it goes!

Be Ready! Learning Happens Anywhere

The iPad 1:1 in Forreston is moving along nicely. Our bandwidth usage has curtailed a bit. Students and teachers have become more comfortable with the technology in the classroom. And so far there have been two casualties with equipment. One iPad, out of almost 500 handed out to students grade six through twelve, has suffered drop damage due to just too much on the desk (cannot wait for the paperless/textbook-less classroom). The other casualty shows that learning does really happen anywhere.

I received a phone call today from a concerned parent letting me know that their child’s iPad case had gone missing. Thankfully it was just the outer case, and not the inner shell with the iPad attached. However, the parent decided to share how this case has gone missing.

The student in question came home from school and went from the bus to the corn combine to help with the harvest. Corn harvesting involves driving long stretches of fields, cutting down swaths of corn, and can be monotonous. Why not use this time to put the corn combine on cruise control and get some homework completed?

So, while the student was using their iPad in their unusual learning space, the outer case of the iPad fell out the open door of the combine cab. The student did not realize the case was missing until after completing their work, well after the sun had gone down.

Unfortunately for this student, his uncle came early the next morning to bind the leftover stalks in the field. Thus, the iPad case is now located somewhere in a large bundle of corn stalks. And while I am befuddled how the case fell from the cab, I am a little excited just how this student was using their time and technology to redefine their learning space.

So think about this . . . how do you think technology is allowing students to change their learning space? Has your school taken steps to create spaces where students feel comfortable using their portable technology? If the cab of a corn combine is enough for a student to engage in their lesson, where else can learning happen?

The Demands of Learning

Photograph by Jean Chung for TIME

Pink Floyd’s notable lyric from Another Brick in the Wall (albeit edited for conventions) has been trending in educational commentary as of late, and the recent issue of Time is no exception. In Teacher, leave those kids alone, Amanda Ripley reports on the intensely demanding, ferocious study habits and schedules of South Korean students. Ripley follows a group of Seoul government officials whose evening mission is to patrol and discover children who are studying after 10 PM and to stop them from doing so.

South Korea has begun enforcing a curfew in order to attempt to quell the nation’s obsession with private tutoring, which erupted out of its longstanding emphasis on one-size fits curricula leading to high-stakes, college-entrance exams. Consider the following, shared in Ripley’s article:

  • 74% of all students participate in private after-school instruction
  • the average cost of this after-school tutoring is approximately $2,600 per student per year
  • there are more private instructors in South Korea than there are teachers, the most successful of whom earn millions of dollars per year through face-to-face and online classes
  • when students fail to gain entrance into top universities, they spend their next year after high school attending hagwons to improve their scores on entrance exams (and only 14% of those students are accepted into the most sought after hagwons)
  • fertility rates are declining as families feel pressured to financially support students’ education
  • South Korean students are working hard, but not necessarily smart – Ripley noted her observations of students sleeping in class during the school day in order to have the energy to stay up late to study
  • hagwons continue to be an impenetrable force because the stakes are still the same: students feel a strong desire to get into one of the country’s top universities. “Where you attend university haunts you for the rest of your life,” noted Lee Beom, former cram-school instructor
  • students are crammed into poorly lit, small spaces, late into the evening hours, devouring common worksheets and study guides; daily schedules range from 8 AM to 10 PM-1 AM, depending on the ambition of the student
  • parents relentlessly push their children academically in order to compete with other students who are attending after-hours tutoring

Are South Korean students successful? They outperform students in nearly all other nations in reading and math. Their country has benefited: its GDP has increased nearly 40,000% since 1962. However, government officials are concerned that the rigid system must be transformed in order to make way for more innovation, otherwise economic growth will stagnate. Schools all across Asia are looking to make their schools more “American” (a recommended read is Yong Zhao’s Catching up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization) in order to equip students with a more global skill set. South Korean education officials are working to improve public schools by creating more rigorous evaluation systems for teachers and principals (sound familiar?) and requiring more professional development for low-performing teachers.

As an American administrator I’ve been introduced to the ins and outs of the educational systems of foreign nations, such as those in Singapore, Finland, Canada, and South Korea. The propensity for comparing the supposed abysmal performance of our students to those in more “successful” nations is becoming quite the popular pastime. I still have a hard time believing our system is as broken as many claim it to be, however Ripley’s account of her nocturnal journey (she describes the hagwon she visited as “a distributing scene, sort of like a sweatshop for children’s brains”) solidified in me a great appreciation for our desire to teach and value the whole child; to encourage passion-driven, student-centered, and inquiry-based learning opportunities; to ensure the time students spend within our brick and mortar or online learning environments is time well spent: that it’s engaging, authentic, creative, collaborative, and intellectually stimulating. That we allow for play, mistakes, and continuous growth in a nurturing environment.

Films like Race to Nowhere examine the detriments that the pressures associated with academic competition, grades, and homework can play on our children’s lives. I shared my thoughts on this documentary last spring and some of my colleagues did as well, including Jonathan Martin, who most recently shared a guest post on his blog pushing back against Nowhere’s claims that homework in itself will be the downfall of our children, but rather than homework and academic overload is to blame. When I consider the implications of the South Korea system, hagwons, and the inordinate amount of pressure to perform experienced by those students on a daily basis, the word overload doesn’t quite do it justice.

Administrators, we owe it to our students to examine often and in depth the demands our school systems are placing on students’ intellectual, emotional, social, and behavioral well-beings.

Ripley, A. (2011) Teacher, leave those kids alone. Time. December 5.
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EdCeptional #23 – 25 days ’til Christmas

Today we veer a little from our normal show and talk about what tech goodies do you hope to find in your stocking and share some geeky gifts and places to pick these up for the holiday season. We also talk about EduBlogger Award Nominations and how you can find the best blogs to reader from these nominations. 

Show Host:  Anne Truger (@atruger)

Show contributors:
Deb Truskey (@debtruskey)
Tricia Lazzaro (@tlazzaro11)

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The Flipped Classroom Revisited

EdReach Note: This is a guest post from Jon Bergmann. Jon is a pioneer of the flipped classroom movement. You can join the Flipped Class community at, and can follow Jon on Twitter @jonbergmann.

Lately, there has been a lot of interest and controversy about the flipped classroom.  For those of you who are still trying to get your mind around what the flipped classroom is, most people are currently defining the flipped classroom as a class in which the lectures are watched at home and the class time is used to work on what used to be assigned as homework.  But this version of the flipped class, is only one iteration of the flipped classroom.  To understand more, I would encourage you to read Aaron Sam’s post:  “There is No Such Thing as THE Flipped Class.”  His main point is that the flipped class is not a narrow methodology, but rather a philosophy, which has many different applications and modifications.

Let me share some more about the interest in the concept of the flipped classroom.  Clearly, there is a growing interest in this idea.  Below are some things I am noticing about the increased interest in the flipped classroom.

  • Over a year ago, Techsmith visited Woodland Park High School where Aaron Sams and I taught and made two videos about the flipped class.  One of those videos has received over 100,000 views on youtube.
  • People are blogging about the flip with increasing frequency.
  • Educational conference sessions are being conducted (I write this from the Dallas Convention Center where I will be speaking to science teachers about the flip).
  • Research is being done about the effectiveness of the flip.
  • Grants have been acquired to fund the expansion of the flip.
  • The flip has it’s own twitter hashtag (#flipclass) and people are posting on a daily basis
  • We will have our second Flipped Class Conference in the summer of 2012 (In the Chicago area)
  • The increased number of people who are joining the Flipped Class Network:  As of this writing we are approaching 2500 educators discussing the flipped class and how they are implementing it.
  • Aaron and I have written a book (published by and available June 2012) and we have a second book in the works.

So, there is a great deal of interest in the idea of the flipped class.  Is the flipped class the future of education? Does it have serious flaws?  Let me now address some of the controversy surrounding the flipped class.  Most of what I am going to say has been said elsewhere, and probably more eloquently, by others, but I want to put in my thoughts.

As I see it, there are several misconceptions, which contribute to the controversy:

  • Fear that the flipped class would lead to less engaged students who simply look at videos:  This is actually the opposite of what I experienced as a teacher and what others who employ the flip experience.  We are discovering that what actually happens is that student engagement and student-teacher interaction increases.  I feel this is one of the greatest strengths of the flip.
  • The flipped class will lead to huge classes with little engagement:  The thinking here is that you could have many more students in a class if the video was doing the direct instruction.  This would make education cheaper because you would be able to hire fewer teachers.  One thing I say whenever I share the story of the flip with people is that I talk to every kid in every class every day.  One of the hallmarks of how I have flipped my classes is this statement.  But, if I had class sizes which were too large, even this methodology will fail.  The key to the flipped class is actually not the videos, it is the freedom those videos give the teacher to have engaging class activities and interaction with their students.
  • The flipped class is just bad lecture on video:  The assumption by some is that if ALL we do is move the lecture online, we are only using technology for bad pedagogy. Their argument is that we need less lecture and more hands on, problem based, student generated, and inquiry learning. And I agree with these folks.  However, I see the flip as a stepping stone for teachers who have lectured for all of their career.  For them the idea of moving to an inquiry, problem based learning model would be very difficult.  But the idea of simply recording what they already do and then move that to outside of the class is not a huge step.
  • The flipped class hurts students who have limited access to technology:  I am surprised at how often I continue to see this objection.  When Aaron and I started the flip in 2007 we had a number of students without both computers and access to high speed internet.  We HAD to solve this problem.  We simply took 4-6 videos  and burned them onto a DVD and handed the DVD’s out to students.  Some students who had a computer at home but not high speed internet brought in flash drives and took home the videos that way.  If you really want to see an example of how the flip is working with a school with low SES, watch this video of Greg Green’s school on the outskirts of Detroit.

I still believe in the flip.  It not only can, but has changed the lives of many students.  When implemented well, and in a huge variety of ways, it is helping students all over the world become better learners and preparing them for their futures.

Top 10 Educational Videos of 2011

Another year is coming to a close. And with the New Year approaching, it’s a great time to reflect on topics and issues that impacted our learning in 2011.

I traveled all over the country again in 2011 speaking to K-12 educators on the power that video can have on student learning. I have personally witnessed the amazing influence video has had on my own students’ learning during my past nine years in education. 2011 was no exception in the diverse and powerful videos that some of our world leaders, or future world leaders, created. Therefore, I have decided to list the top 10 educational videos I watched this past year.

Now, I will concede that there may be better videos in our global stratosphere. But, I have to admit I was blown away in one way or another by the following list. Most of these videos came through my Professional Learning Network via Twitter, or through my own personal research. So here it goes.

10. To make a video, age simply doesn’t matter. 1st and 2nd grade students from Ancaster Meadow School, created fun and educational field trip videos using iPod Touch devices and flip cams.  (Bonus 10 videos in this selection. Couldn’t help it!)

Grades 1 And 2 At Ancaster Meadow School

9. My list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t offer at least one video created by my own students. Just this past November, my class was “hired” by the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE), to be the onsite media journalists for their national convention. The opening keynote speaker? Sir Ken Robinson….and a few of my students produced this piece.

Sir Ken Robinson on SchoolTube

8. Media literacy is a repertoire of competences that enable people to analyze, evaluate, and create messages in a wide variety of media modes, genres, and forms.  (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) It is a topic that is very important to me and I believe, is a skill that is necessary for all 21st century learners. Cultural Anthropologist Mimi Ito, discusses Connected Learning, Children, and Digital Media.

Cultural Anthropologist Mimi Ito on Connected Learning, Children, and Digital Media

7. iPads in the classroom are becoming increasingly more popular. This video from iTunes U illustrates just how students are using iPads to facilitate their own learning, and benefiting from its power. The following collection is filled with great videos. I personally was struck by #3 on the list.

iPad in High School English

6. Remember I mentioned ease and accessibility when it comes now to video production? How about a free App?!

Meet Videolicious

5. The “Flipped Classroom” model has been discussed quite a bit in 2011. And much of the discussion began with Salman Khan on Ted Talks in March.

Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education

4. This AT&T documentary is beyond powerful. Our school screened this film to the entire student body, and it was the talk of the halls for weeks.

AT&T Don’t Text While Driving Documentary

3. Thomas Suarez is a 6th grade student at a middle school in the South Bay of Los Angeles. Oh, and he may be the next Steve Jobs. Really?! 6th grade?!!! Kids are amazing.

TEDxManhattanBeach – Thomas Suarez – iPhone Application Developer… and 6th Grader

2. Filmed at the Stanford University graduation ceremony in 2005, this video went viral once again after the death of Apple’s Steve Jobs on October 5, 2011.

Steve Jobs: How to live before you die

1. What does challenged based learning look like? Just watch this video, and read the accompanying website, to learn how a group of Australian students accomplished amazing tasks to help others around the world.

What Does Challenged Based Learning Look Like

There ya have it. My top 10 educational videos of the year.  If there is a video on your list that wasn’t on mine, please share! I would love to watch what you are watching. Thanks for reading……Happy Holidays!

Don Goble is a Broadcast Technology & Film Instructor at Ladue Horton Watkins High School. Don is also an advocate for technology and digital media in the classroom. To contact Don, email:,  follow on Twitter at dgoble2001, or visit




EdGamer 31: Can Learning Be Fun? We Have Proof.

This week on EdGamer Episode 31 we have a special guest who will give us some proof that games and learning can be combined to equal some serious fun. Dan Rezac shares his perspective on the introduction of Civilization IV within his middle school. We also discuss a new app for the Field Museum in Chicago and how Zack is addicted to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.


Show Host: Zack Gilbert

Show contributor: Gerry James

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The complete show notes are now on the EdGamer Wiki


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Holiday Gaming Picks by EdGamer

Holiday shopping is here and every year I am asked about the best games to purchase. I am asked by parents and fellow teachers concerning games for their children or other family members. There are many categories and many platforms. These choices might not be the best for you, but they are the ones that I own or have on my wish-list. Some of these games are great for the classroom, some are totally not appropriate, and some are just plain fun.
For the classroom - C
Just for fun – F
I own – O
I have on my wish-list –

PC and Console Games

This game is definitely for adults and if you like being in a Michael Bay film then this will  be perfect.

My family has thoroughly enjoyed the first edition of this game and this one is supposed to be even better. Kinect Sports Season 2 can be played at home and also in schools. There are schools who use the Xbox with Kinect.

If you want to have fun and workout at the same time then this is the game for you. I know all of you are asking and the answer is yes, I am one of the dancers. I will give a you a gold star if you can find me within the game.

  • Civilization IV or VC, F, O

I couldn’t leave this off the list. It is one of my all time favorites and I play this at home and use it within the classroom. I like the versions on the PC, but I am not a fan of the console or the mobile versions. If you want Civilization V then you will need to make sure your computer can handle it. It is a resource hog and older computers will struggle to run it properly.

I am not sure if these could be used in the classroom, but it could be a fun challenge. These games are great for many ages and enjoyable to play together. I have had many hours trying to get through each level with my children.  These games can be played on the console, PC, and Nintendo DS.


Board Games

The object of the game is settle and control the territory and resources of the game board. What makes this game great is the board can be changed in many ways and that keeps each game new and exciting.

This is a great game for the classroom. Questions are asked and your answers move the pieces on the board. The object of the game is to remove the most letters. This is not easy to explain.  Watch the video on the link page to get a better understading.

There are several versions of this game and they are Asia, the Americas, Europe, and Africa. This game helps build geography skills.

Ok, this is a geeky, but it is a good pick for those who enjoy Tolkien. This is a cooperative game which makes this game unique. The game has an ultimate goal and if I have to explain that goal then this is probably not the game for you.

Days of Wonder is a great board game company who has recently jumped into the online and  iOS platforms. Check out their selection of games and I am sure you will find something enjoyable.


Mobile Device Games
I don’t even know where to start here.  There is so much content and too little time.  I will share 2 sites I use often. They are both very helpful in finding games for education, for productivity, and for those that are not so productive.

  • – This site has teacher and student reviews of iOS apps.
  • AppAdvice – A great resource to find apps for all areas.  They have current app news, category lists, and a daily list of free apps.


MacReach Show #29: Feeling Thankful!

This week on MacReach: We are feeling very thankful for some of our favorite Apple technologies, accessories, and Thanksgiving apps! Appy Thanksgiving everyone!

Show Host: Meg Wilson (@iPodsibiities)

Co-Host: Kelly Dumont (@KDumont)

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View the complete show notes here on the EdReach MacReach Wiki to see all the links and apps discussed in the show.


5 Simple Ways To Be A Thankful Principal

Research shows that merit pay dosen’t work.  What surveys of teachers do show is that teachers want to be appreciated for what they do, they want to know that what they are doing matters.  Think about it, good teachers don’t start teaching for the pay they start teaching because they believe in the value a good education adds to society and the difference they can make. Teachers want to work in professional environments that supports this desire and as principals and school leaders we need to show them how thankful we are for them.Thankful leadership matters!
As school leaders we need to show teachers how much we appreciate their ongoing dedication, professionalism, and willingness to do what’s best for students.  I know from being a teacher when my administrators acknowledged the work that I put in and valued every minute of my time I truly appreciated it and was motivated to continually work hard, and I now try to do that with my own staff.

On this Thanksgiving week try some of the five simple ways to show your staff you appreciate them; that you are thankful for them.

1.  Recognize your staff

Always recognize your staff for the awesome things you see them doing for students.

I had a principal who would give roses out at staff meeting to three teacher.  He would email all the teachers, minus the three for reasons why this person deserves a rose.   He would then send the reasons to the rose recipients after the meeting.  Seems like a simple idea but I know it meant a lot to teacher when they received a rose.  Currently at my school we have a bucket where we can leave compliments for staff and each week those compliments get passed out to mailboxes.

Another idea is to create a community webpage on your school website and recognize a teacher every week as the “Teacher of the Week.”

2.  Feed your staff
Never forget that people love food!  Look for ways to provide your staff with an occasional lunch in the lounge, or breakfast one morning.  Provide snacks and drinks at all staff meetings.  Did you know Chipotle has a limited advertising budget so that they can donate to causes, charities,and schools?  Ask your local Chipotle to donate lunch for teachers,  I know the 70 burritos they provided our staff was greatly appreciated!
3.  Develop future leaders

You want to show your teacher leaders you value them?  Let them lead a staff training, give them roles in committees or appoint them as lead teachers. There are few things that motivate a teacher more than showing them you recognize their leadership and you want them to invest in others so that their expertise can be shared.

4. Value your staff’s timeNever stop telling your staff how much you appreciate and value their time.I had a principal once that started every meeting by telling us how much he appreciated everything we did and how he appreciated us giving our time and attention. Seems simple right!  Simple enough, but for some reason so many school leaders don’t do this enough!School leaders also have to make sure they do not waste their staff’s time!  Please stop conducting meaningless meetings and use technology to leverage your staff’s communication, collaboration and learning.  Make professional development minutes meaningful so that they truly impact the teaching and learning process.

5.  Be visible

Your staff wants to know that you know what’s going on around the building, and that you care about the learning and teaching that goes on everyday.  One major way to show your staff you are invested in what goes on is by being visible.

Ok, I know I said 5, but I had to add one more…

6.  Guide Community Support Around Your Teachers

In an era where public schools are constantly under attack help rally your community to show your teachers how appreciated they are.  I know when my superintendent wrote an article asking the community to do this I was so encouraged and gleamed with pride that I worked for such a great organization.

Enjoy this Thanksgiving day and weekend.  Take time to relax and reflect, but also take some time to tell your staff how thankful you are for them, that note of thanks can go a long way.

EduNationCast #010: Flipping Teaching on its Head

This week on The EduNationCast: We get the pleasure of welcoming Ramsey Musallam of, who joins us for our roundtable discussion about the controversy over the Flipped Method and what it’s really all about. Also, we get real heavy into science videos, and Ramsey shows us some great apps and methods for publishing video tutorials.
This Week’s Contributors: James Sanders, Jim Sill, Diane Main, and Dan Rezac. 

 Special Guests This Week: Ramsey Musallam 

The complete show notes can be found on the EdReach Wiki.


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LiTTech #6: Awesome Presentations and Hybrid Courses


This week on LiTTech: Emily and Adrienne chat with their special guest Abby about how to make your online tutorials and presentations really sing and embedding librarians in online/hybrid courses.

Show Host: Emily Thompson

Show contributors: Adrienne Matteson, Abby Bedford

The complete show notes are now on the EdReach Wiki.

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aRTs Roundtable #1: Arts PLN

This week on the aRTs Roundtable we discuss how important it is to be involved with an arts PLN, with arts educators being the only teacher in the building and/or district. Hear how other visual arts and music educators developed their own PLN.

Show Host: Carol Broos

Show contributors:   Trisha Fuglestad and Jennifer Kolze

The complete show notes are now on the EdReach Wiki


Call us on our comment line!

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Giving Thanks for Apps that Assist

A colleague of mine recently asked me to share my top ten favorite apps for “Special Education in the Inclusive Classroom”, which is actually something that I am asked to do quite often. Unfortunately, that list does not exist. In the realm of using technology as assistive technology for individuals with special needs, it is extremely important that it be about the individual. What are the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and specific needs? What environment is he/she working in? What task does he/she need to accomplish? And then finally, is there an appropriate technology tool/app to meet these needs?

Over the last few years of working with iPods touches, iPhones and iPads, I have found an extraordinary amount of apps in the App Store that are excellent assistive technology apps for a variety of students with disabilities. But I have also discovered that many of those apps are wonderful for students without disabilities as well. While I certainly can not offer a list of my top ten “favorite” Special Education apps, I can definitely share a few apps that I have found tremendously useful for a variety of students. These are ten apps that I am truly thankful to have available for ALL of my students!

  1. Dragon Dictation: This app is a voice-to-text application that allows students to easily speak and almost instantly see the text. Dragon Dictation allows you to dictate text that can be sent as an email, SMS message, or pasted into any other application on the device. You can even use it to update your Twitter and Facebook accounts!
  2. AudioNote: This note taking app lets students record notes (handwritten or typed) that syncs with audio. Each note corresponds directly to what was being said at the time the note was taken. When students play back the audio, text and drawings are highlighted to help them remember the context in which they were taken. Students can also choose to just record while they are listening, and then go back and take notes later.
  3. Read2Go: This reading app allows students to browse, search, download, and read books from and DAISY books from other sources. Read2Go has synchronized word-by-word highlighting and text-to-speech, which allows students to see and hear text at the same time. While this app is best used with individuals who have a account, anyone can download books in the open domain.
  4. Typ-O HD: Typ-O is a typing app with a word prediction engine and an advanced spelling error model that makes use of text-to-speech. Not only does the app predict words, students can listen to the word before it is selected. Students can also have words and sentences read back to them before emailing or SMS messaging them. Typ-O also suggests words for the most common spelling mistakes using flexible spelling.
  5. PhatPad:  This note taking app allows students to write, type, and draw all kinds of notes and ideas before sharing them via email, WiFi sync, Dropbox, or presentation mode. PhatPad uses handwriting recognition engine to convert handwritten notes to text, and scribble objects into nicely formed shapes. It is a great app for note taking and brainstorming!
  6. iBooks: Apple’s free e-reader is a great tool for teaching and learning. Students can download books, search text, highlight in multiple colors, takes notes, and discover more about what they are reading through Google or Wikipedia. iBooks will also help them organize PDFs by collections.
  7. MathBoard: Students can use this app to improve math fluency and practice problems about addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, squares, cubes, and square roots. Quizzes are generated randomly, and teachers can control the number range, the problem set-up, answering options, select multiple types of operations, and whether the student is timed or not. It records data and can even generate a quiz from just the wrong answers.
  8. iMindMap HD: This mind map app gives students the opportunity to visually spread out and organize their thoughts using color coded options. The Speed Mind Map option allows them to quickly capture their thoughts and ideas. Students can use this app to take notes, brainstorm writing, plan and  organize ideas, and even present with this tool.
  9. An easy to use app that allows to students to look up definitions on the go. Students can also use the built-in thesaurus from The app includes phonetic and audio pronunciation, example sentences, and has a voice-to-text search. Students can even learn new words by shaking their device to get a randomly selected word!
  10. Side by Side: This Internet browser app lets students view multiple windows at the same time, and includes offline reading and note taking options. Students can browse webpages, take screenshots, add bookmarks, extract pictures, download files, and record notes. They can even share and sync files through Dropbox, email, and other selected apps.

iPad 1:1 Early Reflection/Reaction

Probably one of the scariest propositions of the iPad 1:1 Program at Forreston Junior/Senior High School was the idea that we were filtering only gambling and pornography via our Lightspeed filter system. Facebook is available. YouTube is available. iMessage is available. FaceTime is available. We have made our expectations of appropriate behavior clear to students and parents through documentation and meetings. We have almost five hundred students in grades six through twelve who have full access to these tools and websites wherever they have Internet access and whenever they want (minus pornography and gambling).

There has not been a rash of Facebook bullying. There are no reports of kids sending inappropriate images to each other. Students are not attempting to bypass our filter. Inappropriate emails have not been broadcast to all in the domain.

So what is it folks? What scares districts so much to not work with students to truly educate them how to work within a digital, connected and social world? And if one or a few students do betray our trust that they do the right thing in this digital world, do we then punish the entire student population? Or do we do as we should and educate and start being relevant in a digital age?