Joan Selby Contributor

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Top 10 iPad Apps for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

When teaching students with autism spectrum disorders, it’s important to take the engagement to the next level. The iPad can be a very effective tool to support that process. Researchers found that iPad-based interventions are successful at promoting certain skills, such as instrumental request, for students with autism spectrum disorders. They advocate the need for individualized educational programming that affects the specific needs of each student. These devices can help with that, too. 

The educator from Bestessyas asks a tricky question: what apps should they choose? Some iPad apps may have a countereffect on the students’ engagement. That’s why it’s important to test various apps to see how your students respond to them. We’ll suggest 10 great ones to try.

  1. Pictello

With Pictello, you and your students can easily create, share, and playback talking books and visual stories.The app offers multiple benefits for students with autism spectrum disorders:

  • It helps them develop writing and spelling skills with a built-in word prediction feature;

  • It highlights the text word-by-word, so it supports the development of reading skills;

  • The Speak as You Type feature makes them more confident in writing and speaking.

Each page of your Pictello story can contain a brief video, a picture, short text, and recorded sound. You can develop stories that help them remember events, develop social skills, or learn anything. 

  1. Autism& Beyond

Duke University developed this app in accordance with a groundbreaking study of childhood mental health.The study tested the way video technology could analyze the emotions and behavior of a child, so it could screen tantrums and anxiety episodes. 

The app is designed for children between one and six years old. It offers video activities while the iPad camera records the child’s responses, as well as surveys for the parent. 

Since it’s most convenient for use at home, you can recommend it to the parents of children with autism spectrum disorders. Their participation in the study will help the researchers to develop new ways of supporting the children development. 

  1. SpeechJournal

With this app, you can create books that combined images with recorded voices. You and your students can use it to create talking photo albums, short stories, expressive language exercises, illustrated tasks, and more. 

All you need to do is take a photo or use one from the iPad’s photo album and create a voice recording to accompany it.

  1. TheSocial Express

This is an online interactive program with a purpose to address the social and learning challenges these students face. It can help them develop foundational skills for social and emotional learning. There are an entire curriculum with online and offline activities to support that process. 

Through the iOSapp, your students will be helping fun characters to solve social problems. Each lesson is interactive and targeted at teaching specific social skills.  

  1. FlummoxVision

Flummox and Friends is a TV show specifically aimed at children with emotional and social challenges.Professor Flummox and his friends are creating inventions that help them understand the great mystery: other people. 

It’s a live-action comedy that makes them laugh and learn at the same time. Through this app, your students can watch the show on their iPads. 

  1. TimeTimer

This visual countdown clock is very useful for helping students understand how much time they have for an activity. It will help your students feel relaxed knowing they still have time to solve a task, but it will also make them more engaged, knowing that the time is limited. 

  1. ModelMe Going Places

With this app, you will help your students learn how to behave in different locations, such as the doctor's office, mall, hairdresser, restaurant, grocery store, and playground. The app is based on the ModelMe Going Places DVD project.It includes descriptive text for the photos, as well as audio narration. 

  1. TocaStore

This app makes math less challenging for the students. How? It encourages them to play store. All children love stores. Now, they can run their own place and get into the roles of both the customer and storekeeper. They will learn how to make buying choices, count, and do some math with the money. 

You can use Toca Store for team challenges, too. The app is great for encouraging the students to interact with each other as they set up the store and decide on what to buy together.

  1. Stories2Learn

With this app, you can create personalized stories for your students. The stories will feature photos, audio messages, and text. 

When you’re trying to cater to a student's individual needs, you can develop a story that will address their social challenges. For example, you can teach-verbal communication, school rules, playground rules, and more.It’s a great app to recommend to their parents for home use, too. 

  1. EndlessReader

This app is based on the sight words teaching technique. It combines fun animations with the visual and audio material, which helps the child connect the written with the spoken word. Once they see the animation, the students can move the letters into the word, so they will spell it correctly. As they move the letter, the app reinforces the appropriate phonetic sound. 

The best thing about this app is that it doesn't involve high scores, limits, or failures that would stress out your students. It’s a relaxed environment that encourages them to try over and over again. 

All of these apps are full of visual content, which makes the lessons easier to teach. If you have iPods available in the classroom, it’s time to start using their full potential. Try the apps listed above and pick the ones that would work for your students.      



6 Tips to Help the ESL Student Study in English-Speaking Country

You’ve been exposed to the English language for a very long time. All your favorite songs are in English, right? You know the lyrics, so you’ve clearly mastered part of the language. You can even have basic conversations with native speakers. 

When you decide to study in an English-speaking country, however, you’ll have to take your skills a bit further than that. The professors will use complex terms. If you don’t understand them, you’ll find yourself in an embarrassing situation: you won’t get the lecture and you can’t interrupt them to ask what they meant. You’ll also get academic writing assignments, and that will be a problem. The expectations won’t be lower; you’ll have to meet the same standards set for native speakers. 

So how do you do it? How does an ESL student make it through the educational program in an English-speaking country? We’ll give you 6 tips to help you master the language to the needed level. 

  1. Master the English Basics Beforehand

Many people believe that when they get immersed in an English-speaking environment, they will simply learn the language. You’ll speak with natives and you’ll improve your vocabulary by intuition. Yes, that will happen if you intend to be a casual speaker. If you’re a student, you’ll have to be more serious.

You need to start mastering the basics of English language way before you start the studies. These are the main aspects to focus on:

  • Proper and relevant vocabulary

  • Grammar

  • Syntax

How do you get serious about this? Search for courses in your local area. When you pay for an actual course, you’ll force yourself to go to classes and do everything right. If you want to save money, start a free online course. But, make sure to stay committed to it.

  1. Befriend Locals

Many foreign students make the same mistakes when they start studying in an English-speaking country: they group themselves with other foreign students. Yes, you’ll feel close to people who came from the same region. You’ll be facing the same challenges. However, that doesn’t mean you should isolate yourself in the group that makes you feel understood.

Make friends with locals. Those are the people who will show you the best clubs, restaurants, and shopping centers. However, they will also force you to speak English. They will give you feedback on your grammar and pronunciation. Most of all, they will make you feel comfortable using the language in a natural setting. 

  1. Find a Tutor

What if you’re having troubles with the language after the studies start? It will be difficult to study while mastering the language at the same time, but you’ll have to do it. You need a support system. Ask around, so other students will recommend someone who can be your English language tutor. 

If you’re unable to find someone, you can work with native English writers from services like SuperiorPapers. Keep in mind that hiring professional writers and tutors will cost a lot of money. 

  1. Bring Dictionaries and Use Language Learning Apps

When did language learners forget about the importance of dictionaries? It seems like no one is using them lately. Well, guess what: the dictionary is still an important tool. Bring a dictionary that translates words in your native language. 

However, don’t forget to get the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, too. It’s aimed at non-native English speakers, but the words come with descriptions in English. You’ll intuitively understand the concepts. That’s better than mechanically translating them into your language.

Do you like technology? Great! Start using English language learning apps on a daily basis. Here are few to try:

  • Duolingo – The gamified style of this app makes it addictive. The site comes in different languages. If you can find your native language there, you’ll get complete lessons that help you master English.

  • Busuu – 22 hours spent with the Premium Busuu program is equal to an entire college semester of language study. That’s how effective this app is. 

  • Memrise – This tool gives you various courses to choose from.  

  1. Be a Proactive Learner

You can’t expect people to approach you with the intention to teach you English, can you? You have to take things in your own hands. At the end of the lecture, each professor invites you to ask questions. That’s your chance. If you didn’t understand part of the lecture, just ask if they can simplify it. 

Whenever you’re talking to your English-speaking friends and you’re not sure how to form a sentence, just ask them. Ask what a certain word means. Be a proactive learner and you’ll master the language really quickly.

  1. Imitate

When your friends are saying a word you don’t know, repeat it after them. Try to imitate the way they pronounce it. ESL speakers rarely lose their accent, but you have to do your best to sound like a native. You can achieve that goal only when you copy what you hear. 

Listen to your favorite songs and practice the lyrics. Take things further: record your own voice. It sounds different when you listen to the recording. Then, compare your own speech to the original. Practice, so you’ll minimize the differences. 

Bonus Tip: Have Fun!

Do you know how many words you can learn in parks, bars, and dorm rooms as long as you relax? Even your favorite TV shows can be lessons. Relax! You’re a student, after all. Of course, you should be serious about mastering the language, but don’t get too stiff. 

The bottom line: everyone can learn English. You’re not an exception. Immerse yourself in the surroundings, stay committed to the courses, and you’ll start noticing progress by the day.

What Smart Students Need to Know about Essay Writing

Many students find essay writing anoverwhelming activity and this is simply due to the fact that writingessays requires using pure academic language, and a proper structureneeds to be followed. Writing good essays is not really that hard.You just need to be aware of the key components and techniques thatmake up a good essay, and you need a lot of practice, of course. 

Joseph Crowell, a professional essaywriter at Essayontime,shared his thoughts with us on this, “Essay writing is not as hardand technical as many students perceive it to be. All it takes is tolearn the basic rules, and a lot of practice, that’s it!”

In addition toJoseph’s valuable advice, we have some tips to share that willgreatly help you in improving your overall writing skills in generaland your academic writing skills in particular. 

  1. Structure: The mostimportant point to keep in mind when writing essays is that an essaymust follow a proper, organized structure. No matter how long or howshort your essay is, you must make sure that it is well-structured.It not helps the readers in understanding your essay, but alsocontributes towards the overall ‘flow’ of your composition. 

All essaysessentially share the same structure regardless of their length,topic, and complexity. A good essay starts with an introductoryparagraph that contains your thesis statement. The thesis statementshould give the reader a clear idea about the topic of your essay.Next, there are the body paragraphs where the bulk of your essaygoes. The body paragraphs can be argumentative, descriptive, orcompare/contrast depending on the topic of your essay. Finally, theessay should be wrapped up with a conclusion paragraph, restating themain idea of the essay. (Hint: never present any newinformation/ideas in the conclusion paragraph). 

  1. Planning: Abraham Lincolnfamously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I willspend the first four sharpening the axe.” Planning your essaybefore writing down a single word will greatly help you in coming upwith a fine piece of composition. The planning phase for writing anessay includes steps such as selecting a topic (unless you have beenassigned one), researching relevant information/sources, and makingan outline of your essay. Pay special attention to these steps,especially to outlining your essay, as it will making the writingpart very easy for you. 

  1. Developing an Argument: Itis a simple guideline, yet many students stumble upon this one. Todevelop your arguments effectively; it is important that you avoidusing repetitive words. Ignoring this can make your writing lookdull and far from interesting. In order to sound clever andknowledgeable, pay due attention to your selection of words. Forexample, many students have been observed to overuse the word “also”while writing their essays. This is something you really want toavoid if you want your essays to look good. 

Always use avariety of words to develop your argument. For example, instead ofrepeatedly using the word “also”, you should use a variety ofother similar words such as furthermore, moreover, additionally etc. 

  1. Quote Other People: Inorder for your essay to sound authoritative and well-informed, it isessential that you quote other people (preferably experts) who sharethe same opinion as you are stating in your essay. For example, ifyou’re writing an argumentative essay about legalization ofmarijuana, stating its hazardous effects on human health, it is bestto use quotes from industry experts who share the same opinion asyou. This will not only add to the credibility of your essay, butwill also demonstrate how well-informed and knowledgeable you areabout the topic. 

  1. Do Multiple Revisions:Almost all written works need multiple revisions and this holds truefor essays as well. In fact, it is even more important for essaysconsidering the serious and academic nature of these compositions.Revision as a crucial part for crafting good essays as it will makeyour essay better and better with each revision. 

After you havefinished writing the essay, take a break, ideally for a day (or atleast for a few hours) and then revise your essay. Taking a break isnecessary but it will enable you to have a ‘fresh’ look at youressay. The revision phase includes proofreading your essay forspelling/grammar mistakes, checking the accuracy of facts/references,and making sure you have stated all the important information. Youshould also consider the overall structure and flow of your essay.Revise your essay multiple times (at least 3 times, with breaks inbetween) in order to develop your essay into its best possible state.

Remember that eventhe greatest writers aren’t able to craft a good and accurate pieceof writing in the first go. Revisions are of paramount importance forall writing purposes and the sooner you develop this habit, thebetter it is for your writings. 

  1. Practice Constantly: “Practicemakes a man perfect” and good writing is no exception to thisrule. Learning about the rules of good essay writing is easy, butyour actual task is to implement those rules into writing. This isachieved through constant practice. After you learn the rules andtechniques for writing good essays, practice them as much as youcan, until they become second nature to you and are incorporated inyour writings when you are not even thinking about them.  As GamelSankarl says, “No one was born a writer. None had a pen in handwhen they arrived on earth. Writing is a learnable skill, if youhave the will to write, you will find the ways to write, rewrite andget better writing with time. Just write!”

You see there is nothing tricky aboutwriting great essays. You simply need to keep the basic rules inmind, and plenty of practice in order to master the art of writinggreat essays. We wish you all the best with your writing endeavors!