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As education publisher Scholastic notes, “No one has embraced tablets more than special education teachers—and their students.” Apple iPads, and similar computer tablets, gained popularity as a learning tool just a couple of years ago. Shortly thereafter, educators promptly began to debate the pros and cons of iPads in the classroom. Yet special educators have been there the whole time knowing there is great promise for iPads when in the hands of the nearly 13% of students nationwide with learning disabilities. iPads are naturally engaging. Does this inherent engagement factor help students attaining their individualized education goals? New Hartford Central School’s Developmental Program has recently put iPads to the test, and the results have been encouraging. Grades K-3 Developmental Program classroom teacher Ms. Christine Luvera (pictured below working with a student in her classroom) encourages her students to access a number of specific learning apps loaded on her classroom set of iPads, including ABCMouse, ABCya, and Slide and Spin. All of these apps assist Ms. Luvera to direct her students to appropriate activities that reinforce grade level skills. ABCMouse, for example, allows Developmental Program students the chance to engage in learning games that reinforce literacy and numeracy skills. Students are motivated to solve problems and earn points on the app by in-game rewards. “My students are rewarded by earning tickets on the app,” Luvera explained, “and a certain amount of tickets allows the child to design their own ‘virtual room.’” In addition, Slide and Spin approaches specific occupational learning goals. This app uses problem solving activities that require students to practice fine motor skills in order to complete exciting tasks. iPads have also been purposefully implemented in the Developmental Program to allow student access to content-rich video. As Luvera recommended “I also use the iPads such that students can view videos regarding the Fundations reading program, which provides my students with daily practice in phonetics. The iPads have enhanced student learning and has motivated them to do their best!” In a classroom just down the hall from Ms. Luvera, students In Mrs. Denise Altamuro’s Grade 4-6 DP classroom are using iPads to reinforce math facts, learning about fractions, and sorting numbers. “Students are able to access BrainPOP for various Social Studies and Science topics introduced in their inclusion classrooms,” Mrs. Altamuro said, “as well as PBS Kids. The students have also used iPads to do some research writing pieces, most recently about March Madness!” Mrs. Altamuro also argues that iPads have a distinct advantage when it comes to student engagement and realizing individual education goals. “Most of my kids enjoy working on technology and are able to navigate the various sites with ease,” she said. Undoubtedly, Developmental Program faculty and staff will continue to discover new ways to harness the iPad’s unique capabilities. Such an opportunity to do so was generously underwritten by the New Hartford Central Schools Foundation, and in collaboration with Developmental Program faculty, Instructional Support Specialist Mrs. Tina Klar, Teacher Center Director Mrs. Sandy D’Onofrio, and Technology Director Mr. C.J. Amarosa. ach of the two Developmental Program teachers currently have access to their own device, and each of the two Developmental Program classrooms each have eight students devices and a storage & charging cabinet for them. Overall, the iPads have been a success start of using tablets in a meaningful way for learning. If you have ideas on how iPads and other student devices might make an impact in your classroom, reach out to Tech Department to see what options there might be available now or coming soon.

 

While Chrome offers a wealth of features for surfing the web with ease and even more through the use of extensions, some of its most useful built-in features are relatively hidden and underused. A few of said features are some of the options available for working with tabs in the browser itself. These can all be accessed by using a Control-click (or right-click) on a PC or by using a Command-click in a Mac on any tab within Chrome, (see screenshot below).


While some of these commands are likely obvious in their function and use, a few might require some explanation for you to understand when and how they can be helpful. Here is a short explanation what these options are and some reasoning as to when you might find the feature helpful.

The first of these is Pin Tab. Pinning tabs is a feature that is designed to make it easier to manage having many, many pages open simultaneously. Using the feature narrows a tab and moves it to the left side of the screen. It also changes the ways that links on the tabbed page work. When you pin a tab, the tab narrows and no longer show the header text from the page. Instead it merely shows the favicon, which is a small logo designated by the page creator. Narrowing the tab to just the favicon makes it possible to display more tabs at once, although it can make navigation harder at first if you are not familiar with the favicons for particular sites or if one or more of the tabs you have pinned are from pages with no designated favicon. If a page doesn't have a designated favicon, Chrome uses a default image of a sheet of paper with the corner turned. As far as the changed behavior of links on the pinned tab, external links (those to a page on another site) will open the linked page in a new, unpinned tab, with the pinned tab remaining in place with the original page still open. Internal links (those to a page on the same site) will open in the pinned tab, replacing the original page.

The second of these tab options is Duplicate Tab. When you choose to duplicate a tab, it opens the exact same web page (or Google Doc) that you are looking at in another tab. Duplicating a Chrome tab can be helpful for times when you need to look at same page but in different spots. For example, if you viewing a lengthy report and want to see the top of the document, say where you are writing, as well as the end of the document, at the exact same time, such as viewing the Works Cited page, duplicating the tab makes a lot of sense. This way you can add and edit citations easily without losing the place where you are writing in the document. The first instance of the tab is where you are writing and the second instance would be the Works Cited page.

The last of these useful tab options is Mute Tab. Google Chrome will always alert you to which tabs are playing audio. It does this by displaying a speaker icon to the left of the “x” button on its browser tab when there is audio playing somewhere on the page itself. You can click the speaker icon to mute the tab, and click it again to unmute the tab. You can also Control-click or Command-click the tab and select “Mute Tab” to mute that individual tab.

Now that you know about them, hopefully there are times when Chrome’s tab options can be useful to you and your students. Each of them are sure to save you a little time and energy if you put them to work the next time you are working in Chrome!

 
   
Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers
 
iTunes Content for Your Classroom

Are you looking to create a huge wall-sized poster in your classroom? Looking for a way for students to create large posters for a class project? If so, BlockPosters is the perfect web tool for the job.
 
BlockPosters is a free web-based utility that lets you convert favorite photos or images to custom-sized wall posters using 8 1/2” X 11” tiles that you can print and then reassembly into a large poster. Using the site is very easy. You start by upload your image. Next, you choose desired poster size (in terms of sheets of paper), select layout you want (portrait, landscape, etc.). After select you options, you then generate your poster in Adobe PDF format and can download the provided file to print it out. For an all around useful web utility for students and teachers alike, BlockPosters is worth a closer look and bookmarking for future use!
Visit BlockPosters
   
 
The Engines of Our Ingenuity
Houston Public Media

Using short interesting tales, this podcasts explores the story of technological progress as one of drama and intrigue, sudden insight and plain hard work. Covering a variety of subjects and interests, this series is a great way to introduce and explore STEAM concepts by examining technology’s spectacular failures and many magnificent success stories. Check it out today to see what stories might work well in your classroom whether you are teaching history, science, math, and something else!
Visit on iTunes
The New Hartford Tech Spotlight is a monthly informational e-mail newsletter published for all faculty and staff of the New Hartford Central School District by Mike Amante & James Davis. If you wish to contribute to or inquire about the newsletter, please visit here.
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