Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Previewing a Center Activity on the Interactive Whiteboard

I just posted the Animated Step-by-Step Craft activity, Spin Art!

Spin art is a great way to introduce the concept of abstract art and to explore basic color theory (primary and secondary colors). The process produces spectacular results with minimal effort. Spin art is full of surprises and is surprisingly simple to do. You can even use a PowerLink 2 or 3 Unit from Ablenet (http://www.ablenetinc.com/Assistive-Technology/Environmental-Control-Units-ECU/PowerLink) to make the machine switch-accessible!

Spin Art is an activity that lends itself well to an initial large group exposure on the interactive whiteboard, followed by a more intimate ‘hands on’ experience at an adult-supervised activity center.  The initial exposure on the interactive whiteboard allows students to get familiar with the task before they rotate through the Spin Art activity center.  

When introducing the activity at the Interactive Whiteboard, many teachers read and animate a step, then demonstrate that step using the real materials. Your spin art machine may look very different than the machine illustrated in the Animated Step-by-Step. The initial large group exposure is an ideal time to encourage students to discuss the similarities and differences between the two machines … to make sure that everyone knows the location of the on-off button on their machine and … to ensure all students know the protocol for using the machine safely (no hands in the circle well when the paper is spinning). 

You may wish to make the iPad version available at the Spin Art activity center to provide further scaffolding for the task.  See the 01-20-15 post entitled, Animated Step-by-Steps on an iPad, for further information.

... ’til the next post …

© 2015  Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.


Monday, January 26, 2015

The 'Safe Zone' - A Must for Switch Users

Each page of the Animated Step-by-Steps possesses a ‘safe zone’.

So what exactly is a safe zone? … and why is it important for switch users?

Animated Step-by-Steps can be a wonderful way to include children with severe physical challenges. When the task of triggering animations or turning the page is assigned to a single student needing switch practice, there can be many accidental or impulsive activations that can be disruptive to the integrity of your group lesson. 

Each page of the Animated Step-by-Steps is therefore designed to include a ‘safe zone’.  Step-by-Step Recipes and Crafts always include a small visual in the upper right hand corner of the header that serves as a reminder of what is being assembled.  It also doubles as a ‘safe zone’.  

When the facilitator wants to safe guard the lesson against an accidental/impulsive switch activation, he/she places the cursor on this corner image.  If the student accidentally activates their switch while the cursor is positioned on this corner image … nothing seems to occur. Actually a brief moment of silence is inserted that is basically inert.  It is only when the facilitator moves the cursor elsewhere on the page (using a sliding action on the interactive whiteboard) that the program is receptive to a switch activation.

So we know the corner image serves as a safe zone for Recipes and Crafts. What about Poems/Songs?  … They don’t have a corner image as there is not a product being assembled. 

With poems/songs the page number serves as the safe zone.  To safeguard your lesson from accidental/impulsive switch activations, tap the page number to move the cursor to this location.  To proceed with the next animation (e.g. Joey can you help us?) the facilitator slides the cursor out of the safe zone thereby making the program receptive to a switch activation.  It is important to use a sliding rather than tapping motion when moving the cursor to avoid ‘stealing’ the child’s next animation. In the past PowerPoint had an additional setting that allowed you to set the program to require a double click to activate. This worked great because you could tap to move the cursor to a different location without triggering an animation.  Somehow this feature was eliminated from later versions of the program.

Manipulating the cursor in and out of the safe zone does require some skill and a conscious effort on the part of the facilitator. With practice, however, most adults are able to master ‘the rhythm’ necessary for the seamless use of this technique in the classroom.

…‘til the next post …

© 2015  Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.