Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, Depth of Knowledge, and Autism Education

I just came across this great infographic on on Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.

It shows us: 
1. Bloom’s Taxonomy and the process of learning  
2. Overlays Webb’s Depth of Knowledge so that they complement each other.
The distinction between the two learning theories is that Bloom’s shows us the process of acquiring knowledge and is related to the actually ‘doing’ of learning, whereas DOK’s theory is a reference as to how learning and knowledge is integrated.
Why is this important? The two work together independently, but also complementarily. We need to know how children are acquiring knowledge, but at the same time we need to understand how they learn so that we can effectively design educational programs that can be differentiated and individualised to suit each child.

This infographic is especially beneficial for us when we are designing appropriate programs for children who are on the Autism Spectrum. Many kids on the Spectrum are particularly good at Recall and Reproduction of ideas and knowledge but struggle with Analyzing and then Applying this knowledge in another context or forum.

We can take what children on the Spectrum know and with purposeful and meaningful programs extend them to the Higher Order of thinking skills by helping them to think strategically and with reason. Kids on the Autism Spectrum need to understand the order of things; they tend to think in ‘systems’; and need information ‘chunked’ for them, so that they can put it all together to be make sense.

For example, children may have extensive knowledge about trains and can recite knowledge and facts about trains, train mechanics, train routes etc, but are likely to struggle transferring this knowledge in another context. Using lots of visuals, technology, video, images etc. we can help these students transfer what they know into a story; or creative video using an app like iMovie; or their own infographic demonstrating the way an engine works. So rather than just reciting facts, we can help them to share those facts in a meaningful way.

I believe most children on the Autism Spectrum are capable of the higher order thinking skills, it’s understanding ‘how’ they can apply their ‘thinking’ that helps us as educators. I think the Strategic Thinking and Reasoning component of the DOK model is the most pivotal for students on the Autism Spectrum because without being able to reason and make sense of the information they cannot integrate that knowledge and then extend that knowledge beyond just recitation of facts. This is a vital step in learning for these kids.

I have put together some great resources on Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and how it applies to using iPads for autism education. Follow the links to find out more or email me at

Flipagram in the Classroom

Flipagram in the Classroom 

I put together this new presentation on BrainShark for using Flipagram in the Classroom, including information such as:
What is Flipagram?
Why use Flipagram? 
Making a Flipagram
and most importantly!
How can I use it in MY classroom?

Please follow the link below to view the presentation

Flipagram in the Classroom

Learn more about Flip Teaching or visit our Free Teacher Resources page for more tips and advice on using technology in the classroom.

– Shannon Holden

Apps for AAC, Sensory Therapy, and Creating Visual Boards & Social Stories – edWeb

Hi Everyone
If you are signed up with edWeb you can go back and review this webinar I did on apps for augmentative communication, sensory therapy and creating visual boards and social stories back in June 2013. I am hoping I will get the chance to do another webinar with edWeb in the future. 

Apps for Augmentative Communication, Sensory Therapy, and Creating Visual Boards & Social Stories

Most of us know there are apps for cooking, music, bumping, teaching, even dancing.  What you may not know is that these same apps can be used for teaching students with Autism. Presenter Karina Barely, discussed the use of iPads and mobile devices as a learning tool for students on the Autism Spectrum in this month’s Teaching Students with Autism webinar.  She demonstrated how these devices can be used to help students with Autism improve concentration, be motivated to work harder, and improve their classroom behavior. In addition to showing ways to personalize learning based on each students needs, she shared examples of apps for that can be used as communication and sensory tools.  Watch the webinar to find out more.

Quotes from this session:

“I agree!  Social Stories are so important for these kids!”

“Thank you very much.  I am a graduate student preparing to teach in the Fall by an alternative cert route.  This has been very very good.”

“Thanks for this! awesome presentation, very well done.  Thank you!”

Autism 6-7-2013

Presented by Karina Barley, veteran educator and president of Project Autism in Australia

Karina Barley is an educator in Australia, teaching in mainstream schools for over 15 years and in special needs schools for the last 5 years. She also runs Project Autism, which provides services and support to parents, teachers and care givers of children with autism for making the lives of these children more manageable. Karina holds a Diploma of Teaching, Graduate Diploma of Education, Diploma of Life Coaching, as well as a Masters of Education (Special Education) with a focus on autism, autism education, technology and autism, and giftedness and autism.

To take the CE Quiz and access the resources for this session visit the professional learning community Teaching Students with Autism

Teaching Students with Autism is a professional learning community (PLC) that provides advice and support for teachers working with students with autism. This is a collaborative community where educators can learn strategies and discover new ideas and resources to support the academic, social, recreational, and life skills needs of students with autism..

Follow us on Twitter @edWebnet to learn about all of our upcoming webinars and events!

My TechTools edWeb Community

Join TechTools for the Classroom: Easy Ideas to Engage Students

TechTools is a free professional learning community (PLC) where educators can discover new resources, free technology, and great ideas for integrating technology into the classroom to engage and inspire students.

The community hosts free monthly webinars and live chats that are highly engaging and interactive.  Online discussions provide an easy way to continue the conversation and share ideas and experiences with other teachers and educators around the country.

Upcoming Webinars
Presented by Shannon Holden, a high school and middle school teacher and administrator who loves technology and helping teachers learn easy ways to use free tools in the classroom.

Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time
Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time
Pre-registration is not required for TechTools community members.
Join the webinar at the scheduled time with this link: 
You’ll be automatically emailed a CE certificate for attending a live session.
Be sure to join the TechTools community:
  • Receive invites and reminders to free webinars
  • Access the recordings for past webinars
  • CE quizzes (to earn your certificate for viewing a past webinar)
  • Additional resources and discussions

Preview the webinar “Getting Students Organized With Evernote & Dropbox” presented by Shannon Holden, Assistant Principal, Republic Middle School, MO.  After viewing, take the CE quiz to earn a certificate for this session.

– Shannon Holden

Upcoming Webinar – Classroom Discipline Mistakes That Undermine Your Authority

Classroom Discipline Mistakes That Undermine Your Authority
Tue, December 2, 5pm – 6pm

Upcoming webinar with Shannon Holden, follow the links to join the discussion!
Presented by Shannon Holden, Assistant Principal, Republic Middle School, MO Click here for more information and to pre-register for the live session. Join the live session at the scheduled time at: Join the New Teacher Help community to participate in online discussions with peers, for invitations to upcoming webinars, to view past webinar recordings, to take a quiz and receive a CE certificate for a past webinar, and for access to more resources.
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My New Teacher Help edWeb Community

New Teacher Help: An Online Community for New Teachers

New Teacher Help is a professional learning community (PLC) that helps new teachers get advice and support, and share experiences about the first years of teaching.

In our series of free webinars, live chats, and online discussions, you’ll explore how to:

  • “Set the tone” for a productive year of student learning.
  • Develop a repertoire of instructional strategies that result in higher levels of student engagement and achievement.
  • Establish yourself as the “authority figure” in the classroom.
  • Deal with students and parents who try to question your authority.
  • Discover resources you can turn to for assistance when necessary.
  • Develop techniques to increase communication and build relationships with students, parents, veteran teachers, administrators, and school support staff.

Upcoming Webinars
Presented by Shannon Holden, who has been a high school and middle school teacher and administrator, and a new teacher coach, in North Dakota, Texas, and Missouri for 20 years. 

Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time
Pre-registration is not required for New Teacher Help community members.
Join the webinar at the scheduled time with this link:
You’ll be automatically emailed a CE certificate for attending a live session.
Be sure to join the New Teacher Help community:
  • Receive invites and reminders to free webinars
  • Access the recordings for past webinars
  • CE quizzes (to earn your certificate for viewing a past webinar)
  • Additional resources and discussions

Preview the webinar “Inquiry-Based Learning” presented by Shannon Holden, Assistant Principal, Republic Middle School, MO. After viewing, take the CE quiz to earn a certificate for this session.

The New Teacher Help PLC is a place where you can post questions, start discussions, and get feedback from experts and peers on the issues and challenges you facing starting out on a career in teaching.  Stay connected, share ideas, and get support from other new teachers all across the country.

Join the New Teacher Help community for invitations to the free webinars, to view the archives and get a CE Certificate for previous programs, and to access the discussions and resources.
Follow the link to sign up today!

New Teacher Help edWeb Community

– Shannon Holden

Reduce Tardies in Your School

I have worked in many different secondary schools, and they all have one thing in common… They all at one time or another have had a “Tardy Problem”. That is, many students did not feel the importance of showing up for class on time, and wandered to class one, two, or even five minutes late (some students would do this several times per day). Teachers would grumble about having to deal with tardies, and a building with 50 teachers in it would have 50 different opinions of how to solve the tardy problem. Everyone felt that the administration should do something about the situation, but no one was quite sure what that “something” was.

I developed a plan about five years ago called a “Tardy Reduction Plan”. Notice I did not call it a “Tardy Elimination Plan” because I am not so naive as to think I could eliminate tardies altogether. If I were THAT gullible, I would also believe that a person could lose 54 pounds by eating drive-thru fast food! This plan will reduce tardies by a LOT, though. Teachers love the plan because the tracking of tardies and the punishment of the wrongdoers is taken out of their hands. Everything is handled by the administration… Here’s how the plan works:

Once the tardy bell rings, teachers simply shut and lock their doors. Administrators and/or teachers on their conference period “sweep” tardy students to a predetermined area (we use the cafeteria), where they are issued a “Tardy Slip” from the tardy book. The tardy book is made up of two layers of NCR paper, which automatically makes a copy of the writing from the top sheet (we have our tardy books made by a printing company in town). The pages can hold 10 slips, and the slips are perforated for easy removal from the book (like a receipt book). An example of what the pages of our tardy book looks like can be found at

Once the student is issued his tardy slip, he can be admitted to class. An administrator then enters all of the student tardy information into a spreadsheet, like the example posted on the same website as the tardy book documents. The date of each student’s tardy can be entered, as well as what period the tardy occurred.

The last Saturday of the month is designated as a “Saturday School” day for chronically tardy students. Students with four or more tardies during the month must stay in Saturday School for fifteen minutes for each tardy earned. For example, a student with four tardies will have to serve an hour, a student with ten tardies will serve two and a half hours, and so on. Students with three or less tardies will not be asked to attend Saturday School. After the last Saturday of the month, all tardies will be reset back to “zero”, and the process repeats itself.

I host our Saturday School in the cafeteria, with the start of Saturday School being 7:00 a.m. I like making this experience as inconvenient for students (and parents) as possible. Students wait outside the school until 6:45 a.m., at which time I unlock the front doors of the school. Students then walk to the cafeteria, where I have placed stickers with each student’s name assigned to a certain table. I lock the front doors of the school at 7:05 a.m., and students are not admitted if they are late. My rationale is this: Why let a student arrive late for a punishment they earned for being chronically late? That would not make any sense… right?

Students are allowed to read, do homework, or otherwise sit quietly while serving their time. They are not allowed to communicate with each other in any way, nor are they allowed to have cell phones, video games, laptop computers, or other electronic devices. The cafeteria is so quiet, I am able to catch up on any work I have neglected to do during the week!

I know what your next question is… What happens to a student who skips Saturday School? Good question! I tell parents that students who miss Saturday School automatically have an hour added to their time for next month, and they are prohibited from attending any extracurricular activities until they serve their time. You can find the letter I send home to parents with the other documents I described at

Students will cry and beg to be let in to a football game, basketball game, pep rally, or dance… But you cannot let them in if they have not served their time. If you make exceptions, the whole system will break down! In December, we have a “Winter Formal” dance that is the highlight of the year. You can bet your bottom dollar (do we use that expression anymore?) that no students skip the November session of Saturday School!! Another thing that will cause the breakdown of this plan is the teacher who secretly lets students in after the tardy bell because they “almost” made it. Luckily, other teachers will let that teacher know their leniency is unacceptable.

Forrest Gump used to say “That’s all I have to say about that” when he got to the end of a story, and that’s what I am feeling right now about tardies. Implement the Tardy Reduction Plan in your building, and become a hero to your staff!

Coin Flip Discipline

As an administrator, I am faced with several student disputes in a normal day. My job at that point is to listen to both sides of the story, and try to steer the two sides to a peaceful resolution of the problem. If the dispute persists, I then try to determine who the aggressor is, and discipline that person to discourage him/her from starting trouble again. In most cases, it is easy to determine who the aggressor is… But what happens if both parties are the aggressor?

I was faced with this very situation recently. Two students (whom I’ll call “Lucy” and “Ricky”) became involved in a nasty give-and-take that lasted for weeks. The two students were involved in a boyfriend/girlfriend scenario that ended badly… Now they live for nothing else except to bother, irritate, and upset the other. To make matters worse, they had several classes together… And drove their teachers crazy with their antics.

After the same episode played itself out several times, I decided to take a fresh approach to the problem. Instead of spending an hour or so listening to each student give his/her side of the story, then trying to figure out who was at fault this time… I invented a new way of dealing with the ongoing dispute. I called both Lucy’s and Ricky’s parents, and asked if I could implement “Coin Flip Discipline”.

I explained to each set of parents my reasoning, and that this solution is my “last resort”. Both sets of parents were also sick and tired of dealing with the problem, so they happily agreed to my solution.

Remember, do not try this at home unless you have the blessing of BOTH sets of parents! You will get yourself into big trouble if you don’t have the parents’ approval.

When the two students are sent to the office, I pull a coin out of my pocket, and flip it. If it lands on “heads”, Lucy goes to our In-School Suspension room for the remainder of the day. If the coin lands on “tails”, Ricky spends the rest of the day in the In-School Suspension room. I explain this to the students, along with the warning that the coin has no memory… It is possible that the coin could land on tails four times in a row, meaning that Ricky would be in ISS four consecutive times, for example.

Coin flip discipline has been a great success! Instead of having to deal with Lucy and Ricky every day (sometimes several times in a day), I have not seen either of them in the office for three weeks! Lucy and Ricky have been overheard by their teachers working together to make sure that they are not sent to the office, where they face a 50/50 chance of spending the rest of the day in ISS. Now, they are not best friends forever by any stretch of the imagination, but they have found the motivation to work out their differences themselves instead of bringing me into the mix. Lucy and Ricky’s parents have thanked me for my innovative solution to their problem, and they will be more likely to support me if I have to discipline their child in the future…and that’s our goal, right?

Remember, this solution should not be used for ALL disputes, just ones that are ongoing and show no signs of letting up. Also remember that the parents need to be on board before the coin is flipped. But, when the time is right… The coin can be your friend!!

– Shannon Holden

My iPads for Autism Education Journey

I am aware I’ve blogged previously about the use of iPads in my classroom, but I wanted to expand on this conversation and discuss this issue further.  When I wrote this blog, I was privileged this week to present at the Victorian Dept of Education’s Innovation in Technology Showcase, so I wanted to give you a snapshot of my presentation, my vision, from 2011. I have come a long way from this blog and been working non stop since then to share my learning with my peers. 

So here is my vision, my journey, for autism education. 

How do children with disabilities learn? What are they good at? What are their specialities? What are their gifts? If we ask these questions we come to understand that these children are not disabled at all but are different abled!  From my observations in a classroom with different abled students they have many different abilities: they may have a great memory; or excellent observation skills; some are brilliant artists; others have amazing construction skills; However, one commonality emerges, the majority of these kids are very competent using technology; they connect with technology, and where they have problems in the mainstream arena, they don’t seem to have the same difficulties utilising technology.  

Bearing this in mind I went to the research and was surprised and also elated to find that there is significant research linking technology with significant improvements in students with disabilities and particularly autism’s learning outcomes.   I wondered about a classroom that utilised technology 80% of the time. I visualised how that might look, how could the classroom physically be designed to cater for this? The problem with pcs and laptops to a degree is that they need to be hooked up to a power point all the time and some of the time with laptops (as even on a good day the most you can get out a laptop is about an hour). The other problem with the laptop was that you had to look over the screen to see what the children were doing, as well as look at their faces.   Then along came the iPad. I owned an iTouch and was convinced that if the iPad was similar, but was physically bigger, then this could have extraordinary implications and quite possibly could be the answer to my question. 
They were small enough to sit on the desk; with a case they could be tilted; as a teacher I could sit anywhere and observe how the student was working; the interface, with the touch screen meant almost any child could use this equipment unaided; visually the graphics are fantastic; and the device is multi-sensory in that the children can physically touch the screen, look at the graphics, listen to the sounds and in many cases use their voices. The only thing it is missing is smell and one day who knows, someday, someone may come up with the idea as to how we might get smell from the screen.  

I’ve been incredibly lucky as last year one parent purchased an iPad for use in the classroom for her child with autism. The results with this one student was remarkable – he sat for up to 40 mins in front of the iPad, was enthusiastic to use the technology, was motivated and asked to ‘do his words’ or ‘do counting’ on the iPad.  There were other benefits as well, he starting writing independently in the classroom, starting writing at home, used more language, and showed significant improvements in behaviour.   Simultaneously, I started to think about his learning and how kids with autism learn, as well as, how best can these different abled children reach their potential?
I thought about asking my student about his learning? So I asked him… “Do you like reading and writing on paper or the iPad”? His answer was emphatic “the iPad”! Next question. Why? “Writing on the paper and the shapes hurts my eyes”. Hmmmm…. Note to self, if you don’t know the answer ask your student.   

My understanding about autism is that these children are sensorially different; their visual world looks different, sounds more heightened, and they are more sensitive to touch, colours, smells etc. So my student’s answer is one I need to heed.   It is incredibly important to ask our students about their learning…..their answers will surprise you! A 9 year old boy I teach flaps his hands to the side of his eyes. Many schools try to prevent this so-called ‘abnormal’ behaviour and set about ‘training’ these kids from doing what comes naturally to them. I asked my student “why do you do that”? His answer, “because it helps my brain to think”. Why would I ever want to stop that behaviour just because it doesn’t look normal to me?  

Back to Ipads. The experience of using one IPad with one student gave me some impetus and I could easily envisage a classroom with an iPad for each student…again I was incredibly lucky to have a school whose leadership understood my vision, or on some level trusted it and purchased 10 iPads – technology sorted, now for the implementation.  
I spent the summer break researching apps and which apps might fit into the daily curriculum.   I looked at the three areas of Literacy: writing, reading and speaking and listening. I found apps that I thought might work. Similarly in Bumeracy, I focused on counting, number recognition, one to one correspondence, simple operations etc. 
There are a lot of stand alone apps that may address counting only or number recognition. I wanted to find apps that were more adaptable, could be tailored to the individual student’s learning needs, and that incorporated more than one concept.   
This is an evolving process because as more apps are developed and as the year continues, I discover what our classroom needs, or what each child needs or asks for. For example I have a student interested in dinosaurs, so I found books, apps, and encyclopaedias relating to dinosaurs. Another, loves Toy Story, so I found stories and apps on Toy Story. 
The brilliance, is that I can set up each iPad to the individual student’s needs. My recommendation is that where possible, try to have one iPad per child. I personally don’t think group sets will work as well.  

The key and salient point to this entire exercise is potential! What is each child’s potential? How can I as an educator ensure all of my students are provided with the best case scenario that enables them to achieve success? For when success is achieved the desire for more success rises. Success begets success. I feel satisfied that using the iPads in my classroom as the student’s primary education tool, that I can provide them with a means by which they can achieve their full potential.  

There is an adage that insanity is when you continue to do the same thing over and over without results… Then why do we continue to do the same thing in education? Change the environment, introduce technology, let go of outmoded ways of thinking, step outside the box, be innovative! 
Develop your own new paradigm and in doing so the students and especially those different abled students also develop a new paradigm: they can achieve, they can have success, they can learn, they can be included in society, they can have full, productive, potentialised lives! Do we not owe them that?   

So back to my classroom…. I have no definitive data yet, but the classroom speaks for itself. The kids are responsible for their iPads and they are very protective of them, they know what is expected of them and they can’t wait to use their iPad, they are incredibly excited and motivated each day to work. They’ve become more student directed and I’ve become the facilitator. Each day is an adventure!  

I’m not saying the iPad is necessarily the panacea, however I think the attitude is; the philosophy is; the innovation is; and ultimately the new paradigm is! When we stop thinking about children with differences as disabled, we start thinking about how we can help them to learn and in doing so become the best that they can be.

– Karina Barley

My Autism Classroom using iPads – A Blog I wrote in 2011

This is a blog I wrote back in 2011 (03/29/2011 to be exact!) on trialing iPads with my special needs class when the iPad was first released

So, let me tell you a story. 
Last year I envisioned a classroom where I could make a difference to my students.  My instincts told me that technology could make a difference, but I found PC’s or laptops to be difficult because of they way they were set up … Mostly they face a wall, or with laptops, students are hidden behind them, either way they are somewhat isolated.  I then heard about the new iPad, not yet released….. And before I even tried one, I knew it could be the answer.  I had used an iPhone and an iTouch, so I had some feel for how a the touch screen might work. 

I kept saying out loud, “I want ten iPads”.
First a parent purchased one and the difference to my student was remarkable.  He went from a child who could barely sit for five minutes to being engaged in writing, reading and spelling for more than forty minutes.  The parents were so enthusiastic and saw remarkable differences at home.  The school began to see the differences as well and the Principal started to talk about what the future might hold if the school were to introduce iPads into the school.  

From that discussion, they purchased ten for my classroom and I was given permission to trial using iPads within the classroom in all curriculum areas.  From the very first day, my students were incredibly excited.
We do reading, writing, spelling and creating; we also do counting, math etc. And what was extraordinary was, within the first week kids who had reputations as kids who roamed the classroom, refused to work,  and greatly struggled with handwriting, were sitting at their tables completely engrossed in the various apps and learning at the same time. 

By week three, other teachers started asking about how effective the iPads were and the other students were asking why their grades didn’t have them too.  Astoundingly the school made a decision to buy an iPad for each student. So my dream of ten went to 60 in three weeks. 
Ok, so it is just a piece of technology, but my passion emerged from my belief that all children can learn and achieve success.  I’ve taught in many many special schools and I’ve observed teachers still trying to teach children who have fine motor issues to write in Year 7, 8, 9… Not their fault, it is what they are required to do.
But why do we insist on focusing on what these kids can’t do?  We must give them success because when we do, they can learn and when they do learn, they feel great about themselves and the cycle continues. In a nutshell, let’s focus on what these children can achieve.

The beauty of the iPad for children with autism is that the children can interact with the machinery in a very tactile way; the graphics are engaging and extremely appealing; it responds to many of the senses; and as the teacher I can sit along side the student, or in front of them and there is a not a big screen in the way. The other brilliant thing about this technology is that the students become directors of their own learning. 
Parents, educators please consider this technology for your child and allow your child to learn by focusing on their talents and what they can do. 

– Karina Barley

iPads for Autism Education Blog

All children have the right to an education and educational resources that enables them to
  1. Learn how to learn.
  2. Learn how to think as a part of the thinking curriculum, and
  3. Achieve success in their learning according to their own individual learning style.
Children with autism seem to naturally gravitate to technology and computers so it makes absolute sense to allow them opportunities to learn using technology. I trialed the use of iPads in my classroom for all curriculum areas for the majority of the school day. The students I taught had a history of being reluctant learners, had difficulty focusing to tasks, and would often wonder around the room avoiding the work provided.
The results were remarkable and I have to say has surpassed my own expectations. The students became independent learners, including those who have some real learning issues; they couldn’t wait to use the iPads, enthusiasm and motivation was high; they thought all of the time about what app to use; how to use the app and how they want their work to look.
For example, I did a very simple activity where we used an Art/Drawing app and the kids explored every aspect of that app and the pictures they produced were just brilliant… They then decided to take screenshots of their work and use the pictures for their wallpaper.
I went to a seminar (June 5, 2011) with Apple and Warringa Park School, Victoria Australia who are part of the Department of Education’s iPad trial. The seminar reiterated much of the success that I have seen, but ultimately I was impressed by a quote by a teacher from the school:

“We believe that it is possible for every child to discover their own genius”

27 Visual, Sensory, and Augmentative Apps for Autism

Hi Everyone,
Again another article from eSchool News on iPad apps that you can use with children who have autism, quoting a veteran educator and autism consultant… ME! 

27 visual, sensory, and augmentative apps for autism

Veteran educator and autism consultant lists the best apps for autism

27 visual, sensory, and augmentative apps for autism

With the extremely large number of apps available for iPads, even those for autism are in abundance, and experts say it’s important to know which are most effective for students with different needs.

“One commonality emerges [in students with autism],” said Karina Barley, veteran educator, autism specialist and consultant, and president of Project Autism in Australia, during a recent webinar. “The majority of these kids are very competent using technology. They connect with technology, and where they have problems in the mainstream arena, they don’t seem to have the same difficulties using technology.”

Barley discussed how tablet technology, specifically the iPad, is more efficient for autism due to its design and touch capabilities—it turns on quickly and the transition from screen to screen is extremely fast, which appeals to the impatience of a child with autism.

The iPad, when coupled with effective apps, can also be an augmentative communication device, she said. “I firmly believe using iPads in my classroom as the student’s primary education tool can provide them with a means by which they can achieve their full potential.”

One group of apps that works well with students with autism focuses on visual aids and projects.

Barley suggests picking apps with photos because photos are immediate and instantaneous, reminders of activities, relevant and current, make lessons personal to the students, and are simply fun and interesting.

In the classroom, photos can be used in:

  • Personal diaries
  • Stories-especially social stories
  • Creating montage/poster style work
  • Creating vocabulary/spelling lists
  • Word and picture matching
  • Keynote presentations with real pictures
  • Creating worksheets that are more relevant

Good visual apps:

Keynote: Keynote is a presentation app designed for a mobile device. Users can highlight data with 3D bar, line, area, and pie charts, animated with new 3D chart builds such as Crane, Grow, Radial, and Rotate. $9.99;

Kid in Story: Kid in Story Book Maker makes it easy and fun to create visual stories to support learning, social modeling, and early literacy with the child as the star character. Templates come to life when you place a child or student’s picture on every page. The 8 story templates cover a variety of practical and fanciful topics from promoting good hygiene by washing your hands, to a playful exploration of emotions and facial expressions, to a fantasy visit to San Francisco. You can also write your own custom story or modify any of the templates as you see fit. $6.99;

Stories About Me: This app allows parents and teachers to create their own social stories for their children and students. Blending photos, text, and voice recordings into a talking picture book, children can play back rich media stories of their own personal experiences. $5.99;

Strip Designer: Create your own personal comic strips using photos from your photo album or iPhone camera. Select one of the many included page templates, insert photos into the cells, add balloons with fun words, and more. $2.99;

Social Stories: Social Stories is an ABA app designed to help special needs children and young adults understand social situations and give them tools to respond correctly to their environment, in their environment. A photo is paired with a line of text and audio to show the child, and to help visualize what they need to do or understand on each page. $3.99;

Popplet: This app is a platform for ideas. Popplet’s simple interface allows users to move at the speed of their thoughts. With Popplet, users can capture ideas, sort them visually, and collaborate with others in real time. $4.99;

Pictello: Pictello is a simple way to create talking photo albums and talking books. Each page in a Pictello Story can contain a picture, up to five lines of text, and a recorded sound or text-to-speech using high-quality voices. $18.99

Friends of Ten: Little Monkey Apps Friends of Ten is an activity for the early years of schooling to introduce an understanding of numbers to ten, counting objects to ten, recognizing a collection of objects without counting them, counting on from a higher number, partitioning of objects, and the combinations that make ten (8+2, 2+8, 1+9, 3+7, etc.). These skills underpin mental addition and subtraction. $0.99;

Comic Life: A photo comic creation app with speech balloons, photo filters, comic lettering, templates, shapes, shadows and effects. $4.99;

Pages: This word processor app allows users to create, edit, and view documents wherever they are. Pages works with iCloud, so your documents stay up to date on all your devices—automatically. $9.99;

Visual Schedule Planner: A completely customizable visual schedule app that is designed to give an individual an audio/visual representation of the “events in their day”. In addition, events that require more support can be linked to an “activity schedule” or “video clip” to help model the task even further. $14.99;

Grafio: Create business models, flow charts, organizational charts, wireframes, network diagrams, business process diagrams, venn diagrams, mind maps, mockups, text-and-audio notes, sketches and other illustrations. Everything is custom and modifiable. $6.99;

Barley also recommends a group of apps that focuses on sensory perception.

“I call them sensory apps as they provoke the student to touch, explore, and interact in a way that promotes sensory stimulation” she explained. “These apps are especially useful during those situations where I could tell that the student had become overloaded, or were feeling anxious. Using a sensory app can give you those five minutes you need to ‘calm’ your student and distract them from what might be causing the overload.”

Good sensory apps:

Fireworks: Let the show play or tap the screen to direct your own Show. Keep Tapping and the Fireworks keep coming, lighting up the sky. Even set the show to your own pictures and music. Swipe the screen and spin the sky and see the stars. $0.99;!/id364390735?mt=8

Pocket Pond: Create relaxing ripples while enjoying the sounds of nature. Interact with the fish – scare them, feed them, and watch their schooling behavior.

Draw Stars: Draw Stars is game app using a lollol pen. The game scenario is that a starship travels around stars dodging the obstacles to complete a constellation. Users can experience precise movement like joystick in mobile.

Gravitarium and Gravitarium2: Gravitarium combines music, art and science in one relaxing experience. $0.99;
Gravitarium2 is $1.99;

Heatpad: Enjoy a realistic simulation of various heat-sensitive surfaces reacting to the heat of fingertips. $0.99;

Scribblify: A universal drawing and painting tool for children and adults. Scribblify is packed with 42 hand crafted brushes, each with its own unique appearance and behavior. From neon glow to glitter, organic to surreal, most of the brushes are unique. The wide variety of exclusive brushes, preset backgrounds, advanced color effects, mirror drawing capabilities and social sharing tools ensures endless entertainment. $1.99;

Galaxart HD Pro: This app will allow anyone to create their own space backgrounds. Pick from a large selection of objects including stars, galaxies, nebulae and planets. $0.99;

Art in Motion: This app allows users to create a scene instead of a painting. Instead of drawing mountains, or trees, users can customize and add orbs to the scene. Instead of looking at the drawing, users can watch orbs come alive. Unlike a painting, there is motion and life in the creation. Users can even interact with the scene. $2.99;

Tiltoria: This app is a mesmerizing animated light show, music visualizer and psychedelic paint box all rolled into one. Free;

Barley concluded her webinar by suggesting a group of augmentative apps. Augmentative or alternative communication is the term that “encompasses the tools and methodology used to support or replace communication for individuals that have speech or communication impairments,” she said.

Good augmentative communication apps:

Proloquo2Go: This app provides a “voice” to over 50,000 individuals around the world, who are unable to speak or have difficulty speaking. Proloquo2Go enables people to talk using symbols or typed text in a natural-sounding voice that suits their age and character. $219.99;

Grace: This app is a non-speaking, simple picture exchange system developed for people with Autism to communicate their needs independently. Users can select pictures to form a semantic sentence which they can then share, by tilting the iPhone or iPod touch to create a full screen view, and pointing at each card to hear the listener read each word. The cards are large enough on iPad not to need the full screen view. $24.99;

My Choice Board: The goal of this app is to present a visual display of “choices” to those with limited communication skills. This gives individuals with Autism, communication delays or learning differences the opportunity to be independent and express their own specific needs and wants. $9.99;

TapSpeak Button: This app modernizes the idea of a mechanical switch that records and plays messages. Developers have taken the idea and extended it to provide a portable, convenient, and stigma-free tool to use for basic teaching and communication tasks. TapSpeak Button is especially useful for teaching cause and effect relationships. $14.99;

Assistive Express: An affordable Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) app, catered to people with difficulty in speech. The biggest challenge for such users when using AAC devices is the number of key strokes or hits required to construct any sentences, which can take up a significant amount of time to have a decent conversation with anyone. To overcome this challenge, Assistive Express is designed to be simple and efficient, allowing users to express their views and thoughts at the most express manner, with natural sounding voices. $17.49;

Predictable: A text-to-speech application that offers customizable AAC functions with the latest social media integration. Using a word prediction engine and switch access, Predictable meets the needs of a wide range of people using AAC, including those with MND / ALS, Cerebral Palsy and people with communication difficulties after a stroke or head injury. $159.99;

– Karina

How iPads Can Support Learning For Students With Autism

Hi Everyone,
eSchool news wrote an article about how iPads can support learning for students with autism, and quoted me and my work as their reference! They also included a few of my recommendations for what apps you can use with children with autism.

To read the article follow the link below:

How iPads can support learning for students with autism

Lesson personalization, interactivity can improve student engagement and social skills

How iPads can support learning for students with autism

Ed-tech advocates are discovering the numerous benefits that mobile devices, including iPads, can have for students. But a growing number of special-education teachers are finding that iPads can have a positive effect on their students with autism in particular.

Students with autism often have trouble communicating and might struggle with transitions, such as changing classes, getting on a school bus, or taking a field trip. A report issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last April indicated that one out of every 88 children is believed to have autism or fall somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Karina Barley, an Australian special-education teacher who runs Project Autism Australia, uses iPads with her students on the autism spectrum. Handheld devices such as the iPad offer students with autism the chance to personalize their learning while moving at their own pace, and the larger screen (when compared to a smart phone) makes it easy for them to manipulate various apps.

“They have fantastic implications,” Barley said. “One of the greatest things about them is that you can use iPads across lots of curriculum areas. I saw significant improvements in my kids within the first term.”

Barley uses iPads to teach math and English/language arts (ELA), and for customized learning programs based on each student’s individual needs. While some of her students with autism traditionally struggle with concentration, Barley said introducing the iPads caused a marked change.

“Some kids struggled enormously with concentration [but] had no issue sitting with the iPad,” she said. “They were incredibly motivated and eager.”

While acknowledging the financial challenges of using iPads, Barley said her students told their parents how excited they were to use the devices for instruction, and every parent wound up purchasing an iPad for home use.

Some apps have free and paid versions, and functionality and student needs likely will determine which versions are best, Barley said.

Some of Barley’s favorite English/language arts apps for teaching students with autism include:

Cliffs Notes Study Guides
Shakespeare in Bits 
The Poetry App
National Geographic
Sights Words Pro
Puppet Pals 
Play Time Theater
PodCast Box
Montessorium Intro to Letters

When it comes to math apps, Barley advised looking for apps that advance users to new levels or units and do more than just one thing, in order to maintain engagement and keep students interested. Some of her favorite math apps include:

100s Board
Make Shapes
Montessori 100 Board
Five Little Monkey
Elevated Math
Montessorium Intro to Numbers
Math Magic
Jungle Time
Jungle Coins
Jungle Fractions
Approach to Montessori
Slice It
Numbers League
Fractions Calculator
Motion Maths
Skillbuilder Numeracy

“As students achieve more success, their confidence grows, and as their confidence grows, they are much more willing to attempt new challenges,” Barley said, noting that many of her students with autism become much more socially interactive once they started using various apps and sharing tips and successes.

“I really believe we need to focus on what these children can do, rather than what they can’t do,” she said.

– Karina

Five Questions for Students Accused of Bullying

One of the main reasons why bullying is not addressed is that the bully tells teachers, the Principal, or their parents that they were just “playing around” with the victim. While it is socially acceptable for friends to call each other unflattering names or make harmless physical contact – it is NOT acceptable for people to do it to others who they do not consider “friends”.
Here are five questions that determine a student’s intentions in a neutral, non-accusatory way:
1. If someone I didn’t know came up to me and hit me or said something rude to me in front of my friends, would I laugh
and think it was funny? Would I do the same thing to a total stranger that I just did to my “friend”?
2. If the person I just “played around” with did the exact same thing to ME in front of my friends, would I laugh and think it
was funny?
3. Was this the first time I hit, kicked, made a joke about, or otherwise “played around” with this person?
4. Would I sit at the same lunch table with the person I just “played around” with? Would I invite this person to my
house to hang out and/or play?
5. Did I stop bothering this person immediately after they asked me to stop?

If the answer to any of these questions is “No” – then you are bullying the person that you are “playing around” with.
For more FREE information to help you deal with the bullies at your school, visit lesson one of our Bully Neutralizer online course 

– Shannon Holden