Young Readers Learn From DVDs & Touch-Phones

With young readers now having the latest screen-based reading options like e-books, touch-phones, DVDs and more, we are firmly in the digital age.

In the US, a new DVD to teach children sign language is now on release. It is based on “Goodnight Moon” and other bedtime stories, adapted from the 1947 storybook by Margaret Wise Brown.

Each DVD in this set has three best-selling stories with vocal and ASL (American sign language) narration. To develop the reader’s early literacy skills, ASL vocabulary lessons and reading comprehension questions are included. These add-ons show technology is strongly influencing education.

iPhone applications are undeniably one of the best known ways to sell products. Applications are no longer games that you play on the bus, and developers recognize this.

iStorytime, the iPhone app developer for Dreamworks’ “How to Train your Dragon“, is to make the award-winning children’s picture book “Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy” into a children’s book iPhone app with an ASL option.

Danny The Dragon Meets Jimmy” is available as a book or DVD (with ASL). The app is due to be available by August. This will be the first application of its kind and ideally will inspire other application developers to follow suit.

Other iPhone apps available, include:

  1. The Grace App (€29.99) allows user/s to communicate with pictures, based on the PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). You can use the camera on your phone/iPod to add pictures to the app.
  2. Baby Sign ASL (free/€3.99 for full version) Aimed at kids, this app gives pictures with corresponding signs. Animals, places, and numbers are the signs available at present.
  3. iASL (€2.39) This app allows you to type in a sentence and using its video database it will translate this sentence into the relevant signs.

VAT can be reclaimed on iTouch, iPhone and iPad products that are used for educational purposes. Just download & complete VAT form 61A & post to Revenue with a copy of your child’s medical records to validate your claim.

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

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Connect School Project Enables Inclusive Teaching

Universities in Ireland have used the Moodle interactive teaching system for years, while schools are just “getting it”. In this piece, we show how the universal design of the Moodle-based Connect School system enables seamless inclusion in class for all pupils.

Connect School is a joint initiative of South Dublin County Council and St. Aidan’s School, in Dublin 24. All students can access the school’s Moodle system on receiving their personal log-in details. Videos, class notes and case studies reside on the system for the students’ use, as wished.

Moodle is a more interactive form of learning for students. Since 2006 at St. Aidan’s School, the first years in each year have had their own laptops. The project is now in its final year with all school students having a laptop.

Instead of sitting back in class and listening to teachers, the students proactively participate in research projects by viewing videos and/or pictures online and sourcing more information on a given subject.

Frank Moran, principal at St. Aidan’s, says Moodle “has a positive impact on the whole school, not just on student learning but on student engagement, student attendance and student participation”.

While the project is yet to be used with deaf students, the potential benefits are clear. Deaf children can see class notes on their own laptop during class. This supports their learning and clues them into topics discussed in class.  The teacher simply has to prepare the notes for all students before class.

The project in St Aidan’s has been a big success. Benefits include:

  • Higher school attendance rates
  • Improved participation levels in class
  • Better educational outcomes for students
  • New teaching methodologies developed
  • Increased awareness and application of ICT in class
  • Wider range of technologies available to the school
  • Awareness of the project’s benefit within the Irish education sector

With such clear benefits, more schools should consider this way of learning.

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Connect Project Weblinks:
Connect School Virtual Learning Environment
Connect School Website
Connect School Blog

Further Reading:

Interactive Whiteboards Promote Pupils’ IT Literacy

Australia’s First Model Classroom For Deaf Pupils

Inclusive Education Is ‘All-Encompassing’ Learning

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iPhone Subtitle App Puts Captions In Users’ Hands

The first-ever iPhone subtitle application promises to give movie buffs the chance to receive subtitles directly to their phone for the movie/DVD of their choice. It’s a great solution until more cinemas provide subtitled movies and as the app develops, cinemas may use it as a low-budget captioning option.

This application is currently available for free through the Irish iTunes app store and can be downloaded onto any iPhone, iTouch or iPad.

When you first open the application you will see a search screen. On typing in your movie of choice – for example, the latest Shrek – you will have the choice of viewing the subtitles in several languages. This is great for all cinema-goers, but IDK is most interested in the English-language subtitles.

Once you open the subtitles, they will synchronise with the movie, or you can scroll through them at your own pace. Inside the cinema, the light settings on your phone can be adjusted to improve visibility.

A few things to remember if you are using this app in the cinema.
1 . Download the subtitles before seeing the movie as 3G/wifi is usually blocked from inside the cinema.
2 . Ask one of the cinema managers if it is ok to use the app. Just explain what it is, why you want to use it and if needed, show them how it works. IDK has only checked with one Dublin cinema and policies may vary.
3 . Sit in a good position in the cinema. One manager advised users to sit near the back of the cinema or in aisle seats. The subtitles are on a black background with grey font to cut glare and avoid distracting people nearby.

Already users are giving great reviews. One user said, “Thanks for this app! Now I can enjoy going to the movies again! I haven’t been to the cinema since X-Men 2.”

The app is still developing so there will be updates and improvements in time. While the app is currently available for the Apple products mentioned above, future versions may be available for Android & Blackberry products.

View the official website for this app (with link to the iTunes store for app)

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

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Bilingualism In The Home & School Environments

Many deaf children grow up to be bilingual – communicating in both Irish Sign Language and in English. This can be a challenge for parents. How do they juggle using both, and which option should be used when?

Early use of ISL can support literacy skills in a child. When deciding the way you communicate with your child, you should consider:

• What are your child’s communication needs?

• Your child will have opportunities for direct communication with family or friends so you must ensure that everyone knows which method to use

• In an educational setting, the child must be supported to communicate in whatever method they choose, even if this varies at different times

Taking these points into account:

• Early-years educationalists should introduce children to print as soon as possible to develop their literacy skills. This will also help deaf children to reach the same literacy levels as their hearing friends. If a school does not have many deaf students, collaboration with neighboring schools could be considered to share information and resources.

• Arranging for a Deaf adult to read with a child who’s using ISL as their first language, will give the child a natural introduction to reading

• Interested families should have support to develop the appropriate ISL skills to communicate with their child

• Home and school environments should be accessible with no physical barriers. Visual learning aids and alarms should be used by default. If videos are used for learning then captioning and/or embedded signing options should be available to provide an inclusive education environment.

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Further Reading
Bilingualism – an overview
Communication Options

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Literacy Skills In Children Aged Three to Five Years

This piece follows on from IDK’s earlier post, Infant Literacy Skills: Newborn To Three Years, and complements other IDK posts on early-years literacy. The bottom line is that children learn about literacy from birth, regardless of their hearing ability.

While early introduction to literacy is essential in babies and toddlers, the process needs to be consistent. By pre-school stage, kids should be familiar with the alphabet and numbers. At this stage you can give them pictures and keep a simple picture diary with them, or let them make their own stories.

This will benefit their overall creativity. Also be sure to have an endless supply of paper and crayons. Children enjoy drawing and learning how to hold a crayon will give them the basic skills needed to write at a later stage.

Early-years learning works best when it’s child-centred.  Many fun activities are available at this stage and familiarity with the alphabet, colours and numbers will help in devising new games and building vocabulary.

I-Spy is a great game for pre-schoolers as it helps them to explore the area around them and connect letters with objects. It also challenges them to discover what objects you are talking about when for example you say ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with C”. Could it be the cat outside? or the car? or a cap?

This will help them develop vocabulary and letter association.

A library trip can be an exciting outing for a young child in giving them a chance to explore books and subtitled DVDs outside of their own collection.

‘Experience’ trips also hold endless opportunities. A trip on the bus is a great chance for you to point out signs along the way. Teach your children the names of shops and how to recognize the names. Take them to the cinema where they will see objects that they are familiar with, in a story.

Take them grocery shopping where they can be introduced to new foods. They will see items from their books in real-life and be encouraged to ask what other items are. They may never have seen a melon before, but you can show them and they will know for the next time.

Taking the time to help your child with early literacy will benefit them when they start school as they will have built up vocabulary while developing communication and attention skills.

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Further Reading

Deaf Children – Early Language Teaching At Home

Communication Development – Linking Items To Words

Early Reading Skills For Lifelong Literacy

Introducing Babies & Toddlers To Books And Reading

Visual Learning In The Preschool & Primary Years (pdf file)

Including Deaf Children At Preschool – Part One (plus links)

IBM’s KidSmart PC Supports Language Learning (plus brochure)

Early learning goals, as defined in the UK

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IBM’s KidSmart Application Deadline: July 8, 2010

With IBM’s 2010 KidSmart PCs application deadline approaching on July 8th, 2010 for primary schools in Dublin city & county, IDK asked one school in Cork, how their pupils like the PC unit.

Pupils at St Columba’s GNS with facility for deaf children in Douglas, Cork have used the school’s KidSmart PC unit since September 2009. It is located in the junior school and is available to kids from junior infants to first class.

Once a school qualifies for and receives the KidSmart PC unit, it is their choice as what they do with it, and how they use it. They can stick to the preinstalled software, or make their own changes. This school opted for additional software and connected their KidSmart unit to the internet.

Apart from the educational benefits of the KidSmart unit, Colleen Forsythe, ICT Coordinator for the school, talks about how much the kids enjoy using the PC unit. She says, “it is great for them to have some time out”.

When asked if she would recommend other schools to apply for a KidSmart unit, she said the school would definitely recommend them as they have seen the benefits to pupils. She says it is great to have and the best thing is that they are totally free. She added, “you would be a fool not to take it”.

July 8th is IBM’s 2010 deadline for primary schools in Dublin city/county to apply for KidSmart PCs. For more information contact Deirdre Kennedy, kennedyd<at>ie.ibm.com

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Further Reading:

KidSmart Case Studies (pdf file)

KidSmart Information for parents and teachers

IBM’s KidSmart PC Supports Language Teaching

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IBM’s KidSmart Application Deadline: July 8, 2010

With IBM’s 2010 KidSmart PCs application deadline approaching on July 8th, 2010 for primary schools in Dublin city & county, IDK asked one school in Cork, how their pupils like the PC unit.

Pupils at St Columba’s GNS with facility for deaf children in Douglas, Cork have used the school’s KidSmart PC unit since September 2009. It is located in the junior school and is available to kids from junior infants to first class.

Once a school qualifies for and receives the KidSmart PC unit, it is their choice as what they do with it, and how they use it. They can stick to the preinstalled software, or make their own changes. This school opted for additional software and connected their KidSmart unit to the internet.

Apart from the educational benefits of the KidSmart unit, Colleen Forsythe, ICT Coordinator for the school, talks about how much the kids enjoy using the PC unit. She says, “it is great for them to have some time out”.

When asked if she would recommend other schools to apply for a KidSmart unit, she said the school would definitely recommend them as they have seen the benefits to pupils. She says it is great to have and the best thing is that they are totally free. She added, “you would be a fool not to take it”.

July 8th is IBM’s 2010 deadline for primary schools in Dublin city/county to apply for KidSmart PCs. For more information contact Deirdre Kennedy, kennedyd<at>ie.ibm.com

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Further Reading:

KidSmart Case Studies (pdf file)

KidSmart Information for parents and teachers

IBM’s KidSmart PC Supports Language Teaching

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