Boardmaker with Speaking Dynamically Pro Resource Package

Autism Spectrum Disorder Overview

Autism is a “neurological disorder [pervasive development disorder] that features challenges in communication, socialization, and behavior and imagination” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 1). Sensory issues and repetitive behaviors are also main components. ASD “occurs in approximately 1 out of every 166 births” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 17). The ratio of boys to girls is “3:1 or 5:1” respectively (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 20). The causes are still unknown and it is still being researched. In the meantime, we know that students with ASD benefit from “best practices that feature increased structure, increased adult directiveness, increased number of educational hours, and precise teaching methods in combination with a specific and carefully tailored curriculum” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 26). It is important to note that “if you know one person with autism, you know ONE person with autism” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 4). It is a wide spectrum. The best way to look at it is as a different way of perceiving the world; take it person by person!

Students with ASD benefit from: early intervention, visual schedules, routines, social stories, literal instructions, repetition, self-stiming, anxiety assistance, continuous prompts, rewards, advocacy, patience, inclusion, individual programming at times, community supports, social outings, qualified professionals, research-based strategies, and high expectations (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 28-60).

Strengths (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 28).

– physical development

– visual/spatial

– unique perspectives

– order and structure

– systemizing abilities

– rule and routine followers

– strengths such as music, math, calendars, categorizing

*keep in mind that strengths and areas of support change for each person*

Simpson, R. L., & Myles, B. S. (Eds.) (2008).  Educating children and youth with autism: Strategies for effective practice (2nd Ed.)  Austin TX:  Pro-ed.

What is Boardmaker?

Classroom Use

Boardmaker with Speaking Dynamically Pro is designed to help students with speech and/or language disabilities and transform any computer into a speech output device and powerful learning tool for students.

Within your classroom, the teacher can assign variety of activities to students to work on a computer with this software downloaded. You can create and customize activities to your students using Boardmaker, but Boardmaker also has great online community (Boardmaker Share) to share, download hundreds of activities created by other educators around globe.

Great thing about Boardmaker is the ability to print your activities, visual social stories and visual schedules to help all of students in your classroom.

Using combinations of words and visuals in your teaching practice and classroom can enhance the communication and learning of your students. Such as:

  • Job choice menus
  • Transition time card and charts
  • task organizer
  • daily schedule

You can read more ideas here.


Curriculum Connections

In general, Boardmaker supports:

  • Learning vocabulary
  • Providing visual and oral directions to support the multiple intelligences
  • Talk boards where students can communicate with one another
  • Circle time activities
  • Sentence building activities
  • Helps to structure a daily schedule in your classroom for all students
  • Assists transitions for students who need it

To provide an example, I have chosen to illustrate how Boardmaker can correspond with the Kindergarten curriculum.  The text in normal font is the outcome that I have taken directly from the Saskatchewan curriculum.  The bold text is a suggestion for how you could use Boardmaker to support the outcome. 

Kindergarten Curriculum


CRK.1 Comprehend and respond to a variety of visual, oral, print, and multimedia texts that address identity (e.g., exploring interests), community (e.g., belonging), and social responsibility (e.g., contributing).  Worksheets and flash cards for English Language Learners.

CRK.2 View and interpret the basic message of visuals and objects in a variety of texts including models, photographs, dramas, dance creations, and videos. Could upload photos from your students everyday life and have them correspond with text so students would be prompted to understand the basic message of the image.

CRK.3 Listen, comprehend, and respond to gain meaning in oral texts. Books and symbol-supported literacy activities for beginning and pre-readers.

CRK.4 Comprehend, retell, and respond to basic ideas in stories, poems, songs, and informational texts read to them.  Simple story and simple story with highlighting – reads the story aloud to students.

CCK.1 Compose and create various visual, multimedia, oral, and written texts that explore and present thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Allows you to build stories – gives options for clicking and organizes images with the words on a page.  Writing exercises that include stories, letters, etc.

CCK.2 Use and construct symbols, pictures, and dramatizations to communicate feelings and ideas in a variety of ways. Typing boards that can be modified for your purpose (frequently used, one that is organized alphabetically) Will read the sentences to you as you chose.

CCK.4 Create messages using a combination of pictures, symbols, and letters. Sorting the order in nursery rhymes.


USCK.1 Develop basic habits to establish healthy relationships with self, others, and the environment. Boardmaker has options for students to learn how to take turns, eat their lunch, etc.  All these functions are basic habits that keep us healthy.

USCK.2 Establish behaviours that support safety of self and others (including safety at school and at home). Children can communicate by using symbols.


NK.1 Say the whole number sequence by 1s starting anywhere from 0 to 10 and from 10 to 0. Math flashcards are provided to help students learn their numbers.

NK.2 Recognize, at a glance, and name familiar arrangements of 1 to 5 objects, dots, or pictures. Turns math problems into visuals – math flashcards.

NK.3 Relate a numeral, 0 to 10, to its respective quantity.

PK.1 Demonstrate an understanding of repeating patterns (two or three elements) by:

  • identifying
  • reproducing
  • extending
  • creating

patterns using manipulatives, sounds, and actions. A manipulative in math could be the text to speech on Boardmaker for a student who excels with they learn orally.

Physical Education

PEK.6 Rhythmical Movement Explore and perform rhythmical movement to different auditory (e.g., beat of a drum, clapping, music) rhythms (e.g., quick, slow) using a variety of locomotor movements including walking, running, balancing, jumping, galloping, hopping, and skipping skills. Boardmaker offers uses for sounds, so you could have the different rhythms.

PEK.7 Relationships Use respectful behaviours and safe practices while participating in cooperative games and physical movement activities.  Can make choice boards to suit the student or the class.

Social Studies

INK.1 Demonstrate an understanding of similarities and differences among individuals in the classroom.  There is an about me section where students could communicate about themselves to the class.

PAK.1 Understand and respect the agreed-upon rules of the classroom, playground, and school, and recognize that rules and expectations are designed to promote a state of safety, self-regulation, peace, balance, and harmony.  Circle time activities – counting, weather, date, time, show and tell, about me.

PAK.2 Recognize situations in which disagreement may be part of living, studying, and working together, and that resolution may be an avenue to progress to a state of peace, balance, and harmony. This is where you could use SocialStories to show students situations where people have disagreed and how they have resolved it in the past.  You could simulate stories or use real stories that have happened in your class.  You could include student names, students could help you create the story, etc.

Pros and Cons

Pros of the Boardmaker Software:

  • Calendars –> can be useful for students to know what is coming up so they can be prepared
  • Adapatbility –> “Boardmaker software runs on both the Windows and Macintosh formats” (Hillman 79)
  • Add ons –> there are add-ons you can add to your Boardmaker software
  • Companion Software –> they “provide companion software such as Picture This symbol library, sign language symbols, bingo games such as Print and Play, and Print and communicate” (Hillman 79); this allows creation of communication books
  • Premade templates –> made by the creators, these can help to save time
  • Printables –> anything you create on the software is printable; “printing of individual pictures and communication boards to meet particular needs” (Torrison et al, 109)
  • Filing System –> an online filing system makes it so you can keep everything in one spot
  • Languages –> “available in 10 different languages” (Hillman 79)
  • Sharing –> you can share your creations online and borrow from others who share
  • “over 3000 symbols for use” (Hillman 79)
  • No CD –> once the Boardmaker software is installed, there is no need for the CD to use the program
  • Pictures –> you have the “ability to import symbols from a scanner, digital camera, or screen shots” (Hillman 79) to customize for the student
  • Training –> there is “training in Boardmaker” (Torrison et al, 12

Boardmaker Options

Cons of Boardmaker Software:

  • Cost –> Boardmaker can cost upwards of $500 for the lowest option; can get other methods of technology cheaper
  • Time –> time consuming to learn how to use the software; also time consuming to create boards for individual students
  • Pictures –> premade pictures can be limited; uploading own pictures can take a long time
  • Age –> pictures are somewhat juvenile – targeted more specifically for elementary than high schoolTorrison, C. & Jung, E. & Baker, K. & Beliveau, C. & Cook, Albert. (2007) The impact of staff training in augmentative/alternate communication (AAC) on the communication abilities of adults with developmental disabilities. Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, 35(1/2), 103-130.
  • Hillman, R. (2000). Digital images/picture symbols: Using them with children with disabilities. MultiMedia Schools, 7(4), 78-9.

Boardmaker Price

Why Use Boardmaker and Digital Citizenship

1. Digital Access

Boardmaker encourage and help students with literacy, numeracy, social skills, vocational skills and many more. As well students to become better communicators.

However, there are few restriction when it comes to accessibility.

Purchase is necessary (which can be costly) and download the software to a computer to use Boardmaker. You may choose to go Boardmaker Online and create account which give you some flexibility to work on Boardmaker with any computer with internet access or even at your own home. With free community membership, you are able to browse and share your activities. However, you must purchase personal or professional membership to be able to create, print or play (assign) your activities.

It also offers Boardmaker Student Centre Apps for free. Students can access their assignment using iPad.

Boardmaker offers hundreds of uniformed symbols to choose from. You can create any visual materials with consistency. It also allows to upload your own photo or any visual from web directly into the program.

  1. Digital Commerce

Mayer Johnson offers Boardmaker families and many other products to help educators and families supporting children with special needs.

  1. Digital Communication

Boardmaker Online and Boardmaker Share help user connect and share their resources.

  1. Digital Literacy

It is user friendly and easy to figure out how to use this software on your own. Boardmaker offers many online tutorials as well.

  1. Digital Etiquette
  2. Digital Law
  3. Digital Rights and Responsibilities

While you use Boardmaker Online or Share, you should be keep in mind that it is a community of professionals and this tool is to teach and help students. You should be using appropriate languages and symbols.

  1. Digital Health and Wellness

Students may become obsessed with use of computer or iPad. Use of printed copy of visual aids may help keeping students on task.

  1. Digital Security

When you are using these online sources, you are required to create an account. And you are required to set a password for your security.

Current Events Lit

Resources and Samples

Example Boardmaker Pics

Social Story Visual

Boardmaker Studio Videos from Mayer-Johnson


Boardmaker images/templates

Pre-Made Boards, Curriculum and Disability Resources

Boardmaker YouTube Videos

SLP Boardmaker Share/Boardmaker Achieve Freebies

Boardmaker Share

Boardmaker Archive

Example Case Study by Kourtney

The following case study is fictitious. It was an assignment for EPSY 330: ASD that highlights the use of boardmaker to assist with IIP goals.

Case Study 330

EPSY 330 Materials Write-up Good Copy

VSP Goal and Target

Frequency Form

VSP Final Paper

Example Case Study by Mayer-Johnson

Summary of Learning by Kourtney and Taylor

Please take a moment to review our Summary of Learning for ECMP 355: 

We used Youtube, Compfight, Screenshots, Paint, Preview, Flipagram. Screenomatic, imovie, and our blogs to make this magic happen. Magic… that took over 3 hours to make! I now have mad respect for people who make high quality videos and the time and effort they must put into these creations (see Kid President’s video below, for an example). We thought that we would have a lot of trouble editing the video and putting 3 videos together but it ended up being the easiest part of the project. Screenomatic, however, was the hardest part and took us 4 takes to make the initial pep talk. Each take got a bit better and easier, so that was a benefit.

I think the making of this video relates to the class… hard work but worthwhile in the end. Among the struggles there were a lot of laughs. And we used many different programs to put it together because we have learned about so many diverse tools throughout the course. Four months ago we would have never dreamed of pulling something like this off (see my ASL videos for proof). Thanks for a great course and have a wonderful summer!

Laugh-less Moments…

Screen shot 2015-03-30 at 2.15.55 PM Screen shot 2015-03-30 at 2.16.47 PM

Laugh-able Moments…

Screen shot 2015-03-30 at 2.17.58 PM


Our Inspirations: 

Kid President’s Pep Talk

ECMP 355 Examples

And we can’t forget about Tinder or Taylor’s Roommate, Tyler.


Thanks to all! Comment below!


A Picture Says a 1000 Words.. No Really! It’s ASL!

This video was made with the moral intent of no longer stealing pictures from very helpful dictionary services. I decided to make my own sign language visuals. This also helped me learn about how I could improve with letter formation. I branched out and tried a new video making program: flipagram. It was really easy to use – just take the pictures, and upload to the site (which probably now has full rights to my hand photos so something to be cautious about with students), add 30 sec. of free music, crop if need be, and upload to Youtube. Check it out and feel free to comment!

Putting it Together: As Easy as ABCs

Time to put it all together! I decided the best way to overview my learning was to pick out words from my word wall and make an alphabet song! This is not an inclusive list of what I have learned because there are more “s” words than “x” words, for instance. But I do think it highlights the many categories I studied. Please bare with me internet people!

All below information from Signing Savy (Video ASL Dictionary):

A – aunt


B – baby


C – cat and a car driver


D – dad


E – elephant


F – family


G – grandmother/grandfather


H – help


I – in


J – jumping


K – kangaroo


L – love


M – mom


N – night


O – out/octopus


P – places


Q – quit


R – rainbow


S – store and school


T – time


U – uncle


V – very


W – work in the world


X – xylophone


Y – year


Z – zip zoom


And at the end of the day, maybe I can just leave it to this lady:

…or these people:

Or really just anyone else in the world! Haha! Comment below and thanks for watching! 🙂

Breaking News! Your Phone Isn’t Just for Cat Pictures: Take Action!

Today I would like to reflect on how technology can be used to promote social action. Ben Rattray discusses how social media can be used to create grassroots movements through sharing digital stories and starting campaigns and petitions that lead to nation-wide movements. Maybe most influential is the idea that our technology is just beginning, therefore, our social action is just beginning. Ben notes that “we face big problems… but the democratization of technology [means] people will be able to start more campaigns than we can possibly imagine… because together with the right tools, we can change the world.” This video gives me hope that “there is no issue that will be left untouched.”

But how do we get students to engage in these issues that matter? I do think great change will happen but the technology is just the tool. In other words, the tools don’t use themselves. We must use the tools properly to make the change. It is the people behind the screen that matter.

Photo Credit: andres musta via Compfight cc

So how do we promote social action for our students?

1. Knowledge/Exposure – kids cannot fix things if they do not know they are broken. We have the information at our hands. It is very important that we do not let single stories dominate our teaching. It is important that we show the voices of all: strengths, weaknesses, issues, successes, etc. If we expose children to knowledge in the right ways, this creates a culture of empathy in our classrooms/societies.

2. Create a Positive Digital Citizenship – kids need to create a positive online self. They need to actively be creating this positive imagine and we must assist them along the way (ie. get them to create a blog, discuss the risks/provide examples of inappropriate technology use that led to issues for people like this UCLA Student, discuss cyberbullying through examples like Amanda Todd, etc.).

3. Passion – with exposure to the knowledge and the know-how and platform to have a positive voice, students will find things that matter to them. It is up to us to help them pursue these things. Committees like We Day or SRC can help students work towards their goals. I was proud to be part of both of these groups during my internship and amazed at the action the students took; for instance, selling rafikis to empower women/families in Kenya. Here are some more examples of what has been done or what could be done:

Note that with all positives, come negatives, too. For instance, the ASL bucket challenge was a huge waste of water and highlights privilege (many people do not have clean drinking water so dumping good water on ones head would seem a bit insane to some). There is also the socio-economic divide causing a lack of access to technology. And we can’t forget the trolls of the internet.

Photo Credit: via Compfight cc

But in my opinion the pros outweigh the cons. If we expose students to different causes in an environment that encourages a positive sense of self; if we are proactive about bullying; if we help students find their passions; if we provide additional tools so that everyone has access to learning (even if it isn’t through technology); if we make technology a top budget priority in our schools; there really will be no issue that will go untouched. The internet, like our world, can be a more equitable place for all if we work from within. 

My Tech. Plans as a Beginning Educator

My last post, Compiling Tech Resources, highlights that the world of technology is vast. There are more options than we can begin to count; my post just scratches the surface. This is the most overwhelming part of technology for me: the overflow of information/choices. Keeping this struggle in mind and also the “less is more” ideology, I wanted to come up with a “baby-steps” or “starting small” technology plan for my first few years of teaching.

What technology will I use for professional development (beyond professional journals/articles/books)?

What technology will I use to plan the Sask. Curriculum outcomes and indicators for my class?

What will I use in high school ELA? Elementary ELA?

What will I use for assessment for and as?

What programs am I considering but not 100% sure of yet?

(I want to use one of the above 4 and will make the decision based on learners/resources/class/subject).

If anyone has a case for or against any of the above, I would welcome it in the comments. I would also welcome more information about any of the above tools. Do you use them in the classroom? What are the positive and negatives of the specific tool?

Compiling Tech. Resources

In ECMP 355 we have learned about many tools to facilitate 21st century education! From Blackboard to Pensieve to My Fitness Pal – it feels like we have covered it all. For my own benefit (and anyone else who is interested), here is an overview of what we have explored and some of my own favorites:

1. MOOCs

2. Blog/Writing/Classroom Places for Resources

  1. RSS Feeds/Bookmarking
  1. Communication/Assessment
  1. Social


Photo Credit Globovisión via Compfightcc

6. Productivity/Plan

  1. Presentation/Assess
  1. Creative
  1. Media
  1. Coding
  1. Misc.

12. Autism Apps

13. Sign Language Apps/Sites

Today I also want to compile the resources from two articles: Snapshots Of Understanding? 10 Smart Tools For Digital Exit Slips and Apps That Rise to the Top: Tested and Approved By Teachers. Note: some resources repeat.

The first article discusses exit slips (an important element of assessment as… or assessment for if they are entrance slips). The article outlines these following technological options:

The second article outlines teacher-approved apps for:

1. Digital Storytelling/Presenting

2. Video Tools

3. Photo Editing

4. Augmented Reality

5. Reading/ELA/Library

*more ELA resources at kgorhamblog ELA Resources 

6. Commenting Tools

7. Coding

8. Note Taking/Organization

9. Digital Citizenship

10. Social Media

.11. Misc.

What other tools are out there? What is your favorite tool? What is a technology that you and your classroom couldn’t survive without!?

Basic ASL Phrases that Teachers Need

My Go At It:

My Purpose:

My purpose for this video is to a) gain competence with basic signs that a teacher needs to communicate with someone who signs, b) gain competence with introductory signs that I could teach early childhood education learners or those who need to use ASL as a form of communication, and c) work on better video production (which, I mean, I can only go up!)*.

*note: I was clicking through word cards on my computer and tried to edit a bit of the awkwardness of this out… without 100% success.


Photo Credit: daveynin via Compfight cc

My resources:

Important words I found using Signing Savy: Your Sign Language Resource:  

Please leave comments below! Thanks for watching!

Photo Credit: typexnick via Compfight cc

The Beauty of Sign Language and Inclusion

This is beautiful. The amount of work for the community to come together is immense but it would definitely be worth it! This video also highlights the possibilities created when technology (cameras, Samsung services, Youtube, etc.) is coupled with traditional learning (sign language courses taken by community members). The possibilities of learning are endless. Better yet, the possibilities of creating an inclusive society are at an all time high thanks to technology! 🙂

Free #DigCit Resources: No Tricks, No Gimmicks or Your Money Back

Alright, figuratively speaking you are sitting at your desk, coffee cup in hand and grabbing a fist full of your hair. You know you must teach #digcit to your students, but how? Where do you even start? How can you learn about it #digcit yourself? Well, set down the coffee cup, leave your hair in place and look below:

On March 6th, David Andrade posted resources (at the bottom of the blog post) and a free online class for teachers called teaching digital citizenship to students. This is the link to the free Teaching Digital Citizenship App by Netsmartz and Club Penguin. I would also recommend checking out Tech Learning and the Educator Resource Page. Also, 10 Tech Skills Every Student Should Have is worth the read!

The training covers:

  • Digital literacy & Ethics
  • Inappropriate Content
  • Online Sexual Solicitation
  • Online Privacy
  • Sexting
  • Cyberbullying

You can choose to look at whatever areas you want and start and stop if needed. In it’s entirety it is about 1 hour of training. The material covered is best for ages 5-17 and specific resources are recommended for each level. A certificate of achievement is earned after completing the training.