Technology has transformed a host of industries since its creation, specifically education. Yahoo reports that the global EdTech marketprojects to reach $181.3 billion by 2025, with a 16.1% average growth year-over-year. The numbers used to be much smaller, but the pandemic has called for the rapid adoption of smart classrooms and eLearning solutions, fueling the need for new online teaching-learning models.
Enabling distance learning
The 2020’s pandemic has led to a global need for distance learning technologies. And luckily, many educational tech tools were already in place—their capacity just needed extra adjusting to accommodate the volume of users. Software like Google Classroom and Adobe Connect aims to emulate the traditional classroom experience, with screen sharing features, virtual whiteboards, and even a chat room for students to interact with other students.
The activity has begun to be more inclusive for students with disabilities. Laura Nota, a professor at the Department of Applied Psychology at the University of Padova, shares how her school has ensured that teachers have the necessary assistive technology tools to even the playing field for their students with special needs. For instance, those with trouble hearing had the online stenotype service. It contained the transcriptions of all their classes.
Bridging the communication gap
Not every student is the same kind of learner, and those with special needs often require extra help keeping up with the lessons. Fortunately, technology is here to help with this aspect as well. Since 2012, the Lawrence school district in New York has been providing their students with free iPads and internet access to enrich their classroom experience. As a pathologist for the district and director of Maryville University’s speech therapy program, Meaghan Goodman has been taking advantage of this opportunity to help her young students communicate. Her department uses tablets that have been installed with videos, text-to-speech tools, and voice recognition apps, to help students understand and express their words better (see below video). In addition, AAC Apps( Augmented, Alternative, Communication) like Touch Chat and JABtalk can also facilitate communication for children with limited expressive language ability.
Immersing Students Through VR
Virtual reality (VR) has many applications from gaming to workplace training and education. VR technology is utilized in classrooms to increase student engage in learning and communication. A great example of this is Microsoft’s Immersive Reader—a collection of tools that help readers learn a new language. While it’s used in many English and other language classes, education reporter for the Syracuse Post-Standard and columnist for EdTech Magazine’s classroom beat, Micah Castelo, notes how this VR tool is also designed to support students with dyslexia and dysgraphia. In a space-like environment, the user can focus on pronouncing texts by the syllable.
Teachers have also used VR to conduct virtual field trips. An article on Good Housekeeping has listed over 40 trips you can consider taking your students on, such as the American Museum of Natural History, Bright Farms, and the Atlanta Zoo. Incidentally, VR is also a great way to add a change of scenery to your lessons.
Assisting With Reading:
Reading comprehension isn’t the easiest skill to teach, especially to excitable young kids. However, if the activity was made more interactive and enjoyable, they might be more willing to sit down and learn. Reading apps like Blake’s Reading Egg, FarFaria, and Epic are good assistants to start introducing to young children. They’re equipped with colorful pictures, audio feedback, and other features that can make reading more immersive. Bluebee Pals interactive learning tools connect to any smart device and assist with lessons by speaking the prompts or providing words of encouragement. A huggable plush companion that creates a reassuring and nurturing learning setting at home or school. Bluebee Pals pair with all apps offering unlimited access to special needs, reading, and educational apps promoting literacy and communication.Students watching sing-along or nursery rhymes apps or vidoes can enhance memory and recall at a faster pace. If you can find those accompanied by subtitles that can be ideal.http://bluebeepals.com
Helping Parents Stay Connected
Technology isn’t just used to help kids with their classroom activities—parents and guardians can use it to track their children’s progress too. Several types of software can help with this. One is ParentSquare—an app that streamlines the communication between parents, teachers, and administrators. Whether it’s school-wide announcements or personal remarks on students, ParentSquare ensures that parents and guardians are always in the loop. On the other hand, classroom management tools like Edmodo for Parents are there for easy access to student’s academic performance, from the scores of their tests to which subjects they need help with. For parents and guardians interested in providing supplementary help to their kids, especially if they have special needs, these tools can allow for collaborations with teachers to provide the best education possible.
Technology has created a diverse variety of educational tools, from helping students form sentences to allowing parents to be an active participants in their children’s academics.
Exclusively Written for bluebeepals.com By Jessie Bugg
I am an occupational therapist in New Jersey who, through my colleagues and research, discovered the Bluebee Pals Project. I currently work for Parsippany Troy-Hills School District in New Jersey, which includes ten elementary schools with various special education classrooms, ABA programs, preschool disabled programs, and many more. Our school district is currently enrolling students for in-person as well as virtual schooling. The Parsippany Troy-Hills School District is a K-12 district with fourteen schools serving approximately 7200 students in ten elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and an adult education center. The community served by the district is ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse. https://www.pthsd.k12.nj.us
As a therapist, my responsibilities include treating my students both in-person and via teletherapy. I have been struggling to create new and engaging sessions for my students. After researching Bluebee Pals as an assistive technology tool to utilize in my sessions, I focused my efforts on an opportunity to receive a donation from the Bluebee Pal Project for our special needs classrooms containing a large population of children with autism. Thinking outside the box versus conventional educational channels is essential when working with special needs children at an early age. Bluebee Pals ability to connect with children is an effective and affordable educational tool that perpetuates positive results in communication and literacy.
Last month, The Bluebee Pal Project donated 8 Bluebee Pals to our occupational and speech therapists for ten districts to implement in school and remote therapy. The Bluebee Pals website provides a host of practical resources for educators and therapists on their tutorial page and free educational materials to promote user-friendly applications. The Bluebee Pal Project collaborates with schools and organizations by requesting feedback through testimonials, blogs, videos, and photos to share with educators, therapists, and parents. https://www.bluebeepals.com/tutorials/
Specifically, I have started using Leo the Lion with my preschoolers with disabilities and see the incredible results with engagement in our programs. Our therapists will contribute feedback through testimonials and share it on our social media platforms in the coming months. We are honored to be a participant in the Bluebee Pal Project and grateful for this special gift to our students!
Bluebee Pals are softly huggable, lovable, plush interactive learning tools/toys that connect via Bluetooth to all iOS and Android devices. They wirelessly pair with all apps and activities with a narrative, which provides endless educational opportunities and entertainment for children of all ability levels. Bluebee’s mouth and head realistically move while speaking, making reading, educational apps, games, and activities so much fun! Which Bluebee Pal will you choose? Hudson the dog, Riley the zebra, Leo the lion, Lily the lamb, Sammy the bear, or Parker the monkey.
November is a perfect time for children to learn about Thanksgiving, what it means, sharing with others, the importance of family and being grateful for what we have in our lives. Bluebee Pals have a unique charm that makes them excellent learning partners!
Fun activities you can pair with Bluebee Pals to learn about Thanksgiving.
We recommended the below videos and apps to connect your Bluebee Pals. Our soft, huggable tech companions provide your child with a learning companion that encourages communication and learning, all in the comfort of your home. Bluebee Pals connect to any app with a narrative, including the Bluebee Pal Educational App, allowing our users an infinite number of educational tools through Apple and Android Apps and Youtube Videos…Please visit our website to review all our Bluebee Pal Programs and resources for mainstream and special needs children. ..http://bluebeepals.com
I am a special education teacher at The Princeton House Charter School in Orlando, Florida, working in the education field, specifically students with Autism Spectrum Disorder for over seven years. The special education field has provided opportunities to utilize a variety of educational resources and assistive technology. One of these technologies is the Bluebee Pal Tech Companions, compatible with all IOS and Apple devices via Bluetooth.
It’s essential to be flexible in the special education field, but this school year, the pandemic brought on unprecedented challenges in teaching our students. I am teaching students in the classroom and others through virtual instruction. During these difficult and unknown times, many students can become uncomfortable with all the unfamiliarity and sudden changes. Bluebee Pals educational tools maintain a sense of comfort and familiarity with my students. Bluebee performs as a teaching assistant and allows our students to interact with a plush animal who can read, sing, ask questions, and even answer phone calls.
Bluebee Pals Beneficial to Teaching in the Classroom.
When I was introduced to Bluebee Pals, I was impressed by the warming and comfortable presence in our classroom. Bluebee Pal has succeeded in its job by engaging and comforting the students this year. Every educator must discover new and inventive educational resources that entertain and motivate them during virtual learning. When working on the other side of the computer screen, it becomes difficult to engage your students with the educational resources you would ordinarily use in a face to face classroom setting. This year, my school team has found many beneficial resources for virtual learning and compatible with Bluebee Pal. http://bluebeepals.com
Applying Digital Tools in Education
Boom Cards are interactive, self-checking, and digital tools that can be used in the classroom or for the whole group and individual learning. When working with boom cards, they display only one question at a time, with multiple ways to answer. The student or teacher can select an answer choice, type, or drag the answers depending on the activity. Also, many of the cards will read the questions aloud to the students. Boom cards is an interactive digital tool that can be paired with Bluebee Pals by asking the questions aloud to the students.
GetEpic.com is another great tool to use with and without virtual teaching. I have used GetEpic.com for three years now. The website consists of many published books that are well known. Many of the books have the read to me option. There are educational videos, and quizzes that go along with some of the books. Bluebee Pals is a great educational tool that can be used with GetEpic online, especially for the read to me books. You can hit the play button on the read to me books, Bluebee Pal will read the book aloud to the students while the GetEpic book turns by itself on the digital screen. The students enjoy the books being read aloud by Bluebee Pal instead of the teacher.
Twinkl is a digital educational tool that our school recently discovered for the virtual and face to face learning. Twinkl has resources for all ages and grade levels consisting of lesson bundles, assessments, interactive PowerPoints, and stories. It provides educational resources that can be used as supplemental work for the classroom as well. Bluebee Pals, paired with Twinkl, increases students’ motivation to complete the activities. Bluebee Pal can read the stories to the students, parts of the text or activities that can be read aloud.
Lastly, Starfall is a fun and interactive digital website for elementary-aged students. It consists of fun videos, stories, calendar activities, mathematics, and letters, and reading activities. The students really enjoy Bluebee Pal paired with Starfall. Bluebee Pal will sing the songs, read the stories, and ask questions aloud to the students.
Bluebee Pal has been extremely beneficial in the classroom before virtual learning, especially now when schools teach remotely. It is imperative to find educational and digital tools to capture, engage, and motivate the students. By connecting to a diverse selection of digital teaching tools, they provide educators with a teacher assistant who inspires learning, encourages communication, and add comfort and familiarity during virtual learning.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCES WITH BLUEBEE PALS
**Carissa Savoy, Special Education Teacher Princeton Houe Charter School Orlando, FL
White Plains Elementary School is honored to be a recipient of Bluebee Pal Project donation of Bluebee Pals educational tools. As a participant, we provide feedback and testimonials on the impact of technology in our speech therapy programs.
For the past 25 years, I have been a school based speech-language pathologist in the public schools. My journey has been rewarding working in school based services that provide therapy to a wide variety of student populations. I work with children as soon as they turn three years old and students can stay in school with speech services until they are 21 years old. I currently have students from 3 years old to 19 years old in my programs. In addition to the students who attend my school, I work with preschool children before they come to school as well as students in our preschool classrooms at my elementary school.
Just as the ages range greatly, so do the disabilities of the children. My students are working on producing speech sounds correctly to make their speech more understandable. Many of my students have autism or language delays in skills that we take for granted. These students focus on learning conversational turn taking, new vocabulary/concepts, providing appropriate answers and learning to ask their own questions.
Some of my students are learning about fluency control techniques to make their speech more smooth. The variety of age and disability varies greatly when providing services as a school based speech pathologist. So many of my younger students are motivated to practice new skills with the Bluebee Pals assistive technology tools. Young children learn faster when learning is fun and play oriented. Play is the natural state for preschool and young children so the Bluebee Pals fit right in with this therapy setting.
We are utilizing Bluebee Pals in the speech room, in two preschool classrooms and in a self contained classroom for children with significant disabilities, including autism. In the speech sessions, our objectives are on comprehension skills using story apps. In articulation therapy, we use them for modeling the target word and also recording the child’s attempt for playback in speech apps like Articulation Station.
We have the students practice their words with the Bluebee–the Bluebee just listens in this activity but the children love to practice saying their words to Bluebee and give better effort knowing the Bluebee is listening. I am working toward using the text to speech to reward/encourage them during this activity. We are also using it for conversational and social skills with students that have a delay in social language.
They are learning to take conversational turns and participate in interactive play which is so important for language development. The students love the Bluebee Pals! In the classrooms, we are still in the introductory stage and using them mostly with story book applications and songs. I have sent the teachers your information with ideas to use across the curriculum and we will continue to use them in different ways in the classroom.
Katrina Ginn: Speech-Language Pathologist, White Plains Elementary School, Anniston, AL
Thank you again for this wonderful donation to our school and students.
We hope that you will spend some time getting to know the companies on this 2020 homeschool curriculum list. They are all small businesses and your support of them is not only greatly appreciated, it gives you the chance to try something new and innovative with your kids. The products in the 2020 Ultimate Homeschool Curriculum List are sure to get your kids excited about learning this year. Have any suggestions for next year’s Homeschool Curriculum List? Email Info@HowToHomeschool.net to submit nominations for the next Top Homeschool Curriculum List! We’d love to hear from you.
These are our top picks for the Top Homeschool Curriculum List in the Special Needs category. This is your one stop homeschool curriculum list to see all of the Homeschool Resources we love!
Bluebee Pals – Laura Jiencke is the founder and creator of the awarding winning Bluebee Pals Interactive Plush Learning Tools, Bluebee Pals Life Skills/Educational App and co-author of the Bluebee Pals Techie Rangers book. The Bluebee Pals and companion app are recognized globally as an effective assistive technology tool for early learners and special needs children for engaging communication and learning.
With the intent of bringing back the plush buddy, they had an idea of combining traditional plush toy designs with state-of-the-art technology. The concept of an educational “huggable” plush learning companion that could be combined with a wide range of online digital content would provide children with a great source of entertainment while assisting in educating and developing cognitive and communication skills.
Bluebee Pals was chosen as a 2020 Top Homeschool Curriculum List winner!
Little Wooden Toybox supplies parents, teachers and homeschoolers with loads of fun, educational and sensory play printables that give parents and educators the confidence to teach and equip their children with the skills to succeed at school.
Printables designed by Tash Kritter, B.Ed K-7 and mum of 2 kids with Autism, meaning lots and lots of experience with OTs and speech therapists who have also influenced design concepts.
Little Wooden Toybox was chosen as a 2020 Top Homeschool Curriculum List winner!
Susan writes and develops curriculum and therapy materials appropriate for special education students needing speech-language intervention or significant modifications. Most of her resources are written for students who are nonverbal or minimally verbal and who need to use AAC (Augmentative-Alternative Communication) either no/low or high technology. Susan has been a speech language pathologist for more than 40 years and has conducted and published research and been a national and international presenter. She develops her materials in alignment with EBP (evidence-based practice). Especially this year, educators and therapists needing to provide distance learning and parents looking for materials with which to engage their children at home need appropriate AAC and speech-language resources. Susan has both paper-based and digital materials available. She has also written a training guide for parents, available on Amazon. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Susan-Berkowitz
Susan Berkowitz Resources were chosen as a 2020 Top Homeschool Curriculum List winner!
Puro Sound Labs is a small family run company with a big mission…to help inform people that noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable with the right tools and you can be causing it in yourself and your children by not limiting the volume that you are listening to your headphones at.
Puro Sound Labs products range from their BT2200 & JuniorJam Bluetooth Headphones, PuroQuiet Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones, PuroBasic Wired Headphones to PuroGamer the only volume limited gaming headphone available. All of Puro’s products are limited to 85dB, the recommended listening level for up to 8 hours of listening & have a built-in microphone making them great for however school will look for you this year.
With a 30 day money back guarantee and a 1 year warranty Puro wants you to be satisfied with your purchase and if you are not they want to know and fix it!
Puro Sound Labs was chosen as a 2020 Top Homeschool Curriculum List winner!
The Dianne Craft Learning System is a “home depot approach”, meaning that it can be done at home, inexpensively and successfully without the cost of outsourcing. Parents and teachers learn how to identify the symptoms of blocked learning gates and how to start making corrections using a successful three-pronged approach: Brain Integration Therapy, Right Brain Teaching Strategies & Targeted Nutritional Strategies.
1. Brain Integration Therapy- Dianne Craft’s Brain Integration Therapy Manual teaches parents and teachers to informally diagnose their student’s processing problems and teaches daily midline exercises along with crucial once-a-week Brain Training sessions to make permanent connections between the two sides of the brain.
2. Right Brain Teaching – Right brain teaching strategies give the child more “glue” for information to stick – using the powerful photographic memory. Using zany colors, pictures and stories to imbed left-brain information with the right brain, visual memory, allows you to teach to the brain as a “whole”. These strategies will help your student blossom in reading (decoding, phonics, dictation), writing (easily getting thoughts from head to hand), spelling (spelling words forwards and backwards in one spelling session), math (easily recall math processes), vocabulary and test-taking skills.
3. Targeted Nutritional Plan- While you are doing the academic midline therapies (Brain Integration Therapy) and Right Brain Teaching strategies, you can help your children focus easier and have better retention by following the week by week, step by step 3 month Targeted Nutritional Intervention Guide as found in Dianne Craft’s Biology of Behavior CD set. This set comes with the all-important Printed Study Booklet that gives you the steps in order, the amounts, best brands, ages, etc. Many parents report huge changes in focusing, mood, attitude, meltdowns, memory and Sensory Processing issues when they implement this easy to use home nutritional program.
The Dianne Craft Learning System was chosen as a 2020 Top Homeschool Curriculum List winner!