Systems of Support Supporting Educator Excellence through Technology and Strategy

Category Archives: Websites

Tips for Turning Classroom Content Digital

In last week’s post I talked about the importance of using digital text in the classroom. However, making the transition from traditional content to digital is not always an easy process. While there are many digital resources available, you still have to find them. And if nothing suitable is found, you may have to resort to converting/scanning your traditional materials into a digital format. The purpose of this post is to provide a few ideas for finding and creating digital content of your own.

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The Importance of Using Digital Materials in the Classroom

Over the last few years digital content such as educational websites, electronic textbooks, and online journals have become more available to classrooms than ever before. Unfortunately increased availability does not always equal increased use. Despite the number of iPads, Chromebooks, and other devices in schools today the amount of print based material remains roughly the same. Reasons for this vary, but understanding the importance of having digital materials available can go a long way in helping classrooms make the transition.

Digital Materials flying out of computer

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Pardon our dust as we are building something great!

Ooops! Yesterday, we accidentally sent out a repeat of last week’s post. I know you were as shocked as we were to receive information that was a week old! So the cat is out of the bag, we are officially Under Constructionknocking the dust off the old blog to improve, expand, and enhance what we do. I hope that (unintentionally) we’ve built some anticipation about what may happen next. Over the next few months, we have some exciting things in store. So until we get all our ducks in a row, please overlook our imperfections and jump straight to the incredible content that we have always delivered.

Many thanks!

Jason G.

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Top 3 Presentation Apps for the iPad

While Android tablets continue to gain speed ( and market share) against Apple it still remains the case that iPads dominate many classrooms.  Because of this educators are always looking for more ways to take advantage of these mobile devices.  Last year I did on post on How to Present with an iPad that focused on ways to use your iPad as a presentation tool.  This focused mostly on ways to connect to your iPad to a projector or TV to present content to students.  The post did not do a very good job at listing solid alternative apps for PowerPoint or Keynote however.  In this post I want to share 3 that I use depending on the situation.

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Word Clouds in Education

Word Clouds are more popular than ever. They frequently appear in social media posts, advertisements and everywhere in between. If you aren’t familiar with a word cloud, it is basically a graphical representation of text based content. Relevant words that are used more in the text appear larger. They attempt to provide an aesthetically pleasing graphical summary of what the text is saying. Here’s an example of a Word Cloud I created from a question I posted on Facebook and Twitter (I asked people to list two qualities of a great teacher):Image of Word Cloud

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What are Browser Extensions?

If you have an iPad or other “i-device” you are probably familiar with apps. “Apps” is short for applications that provide additional functionality to your device. There are thousands of apps ranging from supports for weather and business to games and education. We frequently discuss and recommend apps in sessions and here on our blog.

Web browsers, such as Google Chrome and Internet Explorer have similar supports that you may not be as familiar with. Instead of apps, these supports are referred to as extensions. Extensions basically “extend” the capabilities of your browser. Most browsers have their own store where you can find extensions for a variety of purposes. For example, to access the Google Chrome Web Store simply visit You can search for specific extensions or browse through categories ranging from Education to News and Entertainment.

A few of my favorite extensions include:

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Wayback Machine: A True Internet Archive

There have been a few times that I have come across a dead web link to a site that having access to would have been incredibly beneficial to my research and writing.  I came across a great tool that you (or your learners) can use when conducting research in the writing process. This tool is a web site named the Way Back Machine, you can find it here.

This site is an enormous internet archive of the internet from 1996 to current. It is pretty straightforward. You type in the web address (preferably copy and paste the link) you are wanting to view into the Wayback Machine search window and click the “Take me back” button. This will take you to a calendar that you can click on to connect with what you are wanting to find. Though it may not retain the visual layout of the original site, the text is there.

Don’t let links that go nowhere stifle you any longer!WayBack_Machine

Universally Designed is now Systems of Support

Just a quick update regarding our blog if you are a subscriber… For years this blog has been referred to as Universally Designed.  Its purpose has always been to provide tips and tricks related to Assistive/Instructional Technology and Behavior.   The blog was part of our website, where we shared handouts and other materials used in keynotes, conference workshops, and webinars.  We have now decided to merge the two and call the blog Systems of Support.  This will allow us to continue to provide relevant information dedicated to helping educators succeed in the classroom while keeping all content in one location.

If you are a subscriber you will continue to receive weekly updates when new posts are made.  We know we’ve been a little behind lately on our postings, but the idea is that this transition will help us to once again make the blog a priority and deliver content you expect.

You will notice that the handouts and downloads on the resources page is now password protected. As always, that content is free so no worries about that! If you are already subscribed to our blog, then you will receive an email in the coming days with the password for the resources page. If you are new to the site, subscribe to our blog and once you confirm, you will automatically receive the password get access.

-The Jasons

Organizing Bookmarks and other Resources

If you are anything like me you will consume more information in a week that you will remember for the entire year. Email is a good example of this. Every couple of weeks I clean out my inbox and delete the newsletters or blog posts that I said I was going to take a closer look at. Unfortunately a week later those emails are replaced with new ones without me ever having a chance to read more into the ones I previously saved.

Welcome to the information age! In the past, information was hard to come by. We went to libraries or paid to receive journals in order to stay up to date. Then came an abundance of information, much of which was marketing material that may or may not fit the definition of “good” information. Now there is no shortage of good information available and the question has become “how to deal with it” instead of “where to find it”.

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Free Digital Text Resources (Updated)

I did a post a few years ago on Digital Text Resources.  While many of these are still applicable (and a couple are included here) I needed to update this list for a newsletter I am creating.

The primary reason I do these lists is because I’ve found that people rarely have trouble operating text to speech software, but instead struggle when it comes to actually using it in a classroom with a diverse group of students. However, in order for this type of software to be beneficial you must have digital text to accompany it.  Here are 11 resources to get you started. Know of more or better resources? Please leave a comment!

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