Thursday, August 14, 2014

Generate Topic Lists Effortlessly

Here is a fun thing to try with WordQ or Clicker.  Go to and put a writing topic in the search bar.  ThoughtQ will search the web for articles on that topic and generate a list of topic words.  You can download the list in a text document and then easily use that list to create a wordbank in Clicker 6 or a topic in WordQ.  What is great about this is that ThoughtQ allows you to customize the list to have more common words for younger writers or more unique words for students who want ideas for expanding their writing.  You can also change the number of words that are generated from 25 to 100.

If you try it, share your thoughts in the comments.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Having trouble finding your downloads in Bookshare?

In summer 2012, the website changed a bit.  As you go through the process of downloading a book, there is one last step that many people are having trouble with.  If you have gone through the steps, but the book never downloaded, see if the following is what you need:

Log into Bookshare and click on “My History” you should see the books you have tried to download.

From there, find the “available link” under the book title.

Click the Available link and then look at the bottom of your screen.  You should find a notice bar like this one:

Instead of clicking SAVE, click the triangle next to the word SAVE and then choose Save As.  Now you can save the book wherever you like.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New tools can open doors to learning

As you start the school year and get to know your little ones, think about whether podcasting would be an effective way to deepen learning opportunities.  Mary Beth Hertz, of Philadelphia, writes about how she planned a lesson in which 1st graders recorded their voices and created a host of incidental learning opportunities.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Inspiration - Leveraging Images to Reach More Learners

Something that gets lost in the use of Inspiration is the relative ease with which you can incorporate images into the organizer and why this is so very important. Any time I think of research, pre-writing or conceptual organization and predict “who will be left out”, it often relates to barriers to fluent information processing. Not being able to process the text instructions and focus on the content that I know. Struggling with unfamiliar vocabulary with procedures at the expense of working and organizing my knowledge.

One important support from a UDL perspective is to provide options for information processing and non-linguistic complements to text.

Inspiration has an extensive image bank. Most often, you can find some representation of a concept in the image bank to build into a diagram pretty quickly. It does not need to be a perfect representation. At times it is functioning as the non-linguistic “anchor in the storm” of ideas, procedures, directions and distractions and consistency is what matters. Students who need to be challenged or have time to do so can work on locating images to represent concepts non-linguistically in the organizer for the entire class. The support of the images can extend to paper when printed or during group presentations in presentation mode.

Often the images can allow students to process the concept in a non-linguistic way and establish complementary and stronger mental associations. In most situations, I think we want these instructions and guides to be processed fluently like road signs when we are driving. Pairing text with some consistent images in Inspiration can be done pretty quickly and help accomplish this. You should be thoughtful about using images and do not want to clutter your organizer, but if there are concepts, sequences or vocabulary that seem to require a lot of redirection or clarification, those are usually good candidates for providing a consistent image for a non-linguistic representation.

There are many reasons why Inspiration may be a good tool choice for you and your students. Whatever the reason you are using it, try to find manage ways to add images. One benefit is you start to see opportunities to use images to support information processing in other software as well.

Hope you enjoy Inspiration and please share opportunities you have with leveraging the image resources it provides!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

NaturalReader: New Version 10 with Webpage Word-word Highlighting

The new version 10 of NaturalReader can both read text and web pages aloud and highlight text as it is read in the expanded floating minibar.
You can download the free version at NaturalReader website.
Additional videos and quick guides on NaturalReader are available on the HIAT website.
It should be in all MCPS schools this summer!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Viewing Photo Stories on the Mac

If you have created Photo Stories and are having trouble with viewing the resulting video (.wmv) file on Macs, you should read this Blog post:

Basically, the sub-type of .wmv file that Photo Story creates does not play nice on the Mac, even with special software to allow .wmv files to play. Just something to be aware of, especially if you want students to share their Photo Stories at home and they have a Mac/IPhone, etc.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Clicker5 - Open Grid and Document Together

If you want a Clicker5 writer document to open automatically with a Clicker5 grid, follow these steps:
  1. "Edit" from top toolbar
  2. select "Edit Mode"
  3. select "Writer"
  4. select "Starting Document"
  5. Open the Clicker5 writer document (.HTML) you want to use.
  6. "OK"
Now when you open the Clicker5 grid, that Clicker5 writer document will open with the grid.