Internet Tools for Teaching

Education & Technology….YES!


Hi. My name is Amy Weinberger. I am a current Wilkes graduate student. I have had my own educational business, The Thinking Center, since 1991. My initial start was in  public and private school settings. I have had the good fortune to create, implement, and direct two private schools and two social skills camps for high-functioning Aspergers and AD/HD children and teens. At this point, I am full time director of The Thinking Center .

I have the continual opportunity to  differentiate curriculum  hourly. My company, The Thinking Center, has two divisions – interventions for struggling learners specializing in reading and language delays and educational strategic planning which includes 504 and IEP audits, curriculum and small educational business audits that lead to innovations, problem solving, and technology operations, collaborations with school systems, school placements for students, as well as, college planning for students in the arts and sports.
My original training is in 7-12 social studies, but my career has lead me down the path of sensory-integration, cognitive, reading and neuro-education training which I integrate daily via teaching, consulting or planning either 1-1 in person or via Skype or other online platform. I hope to take from the course more research-based outcomes of technology implementation for students with learning disabilities. My most recent project that I am involved in is the production and roll out of an online special needs advocacy training training course for graduate levels credits.
An advantage of entrepreneurship is the availability of new technology without permissions from a top down administration. Another advantage is the families that walk through the door are interested in making learning go easier for students. Technology is that cornerstone for most of our students. To the section addressing summarizing and notetaking from the instructional strategies categories, I would add the app Noteability (high school +), Educreations (elementary +) , and Showme (5years old +). I currently use all three for specific purposes. Most of the students we see have mild to moderate language delays. For example, Educreations is a whiteboard that allows students to record their voices while they read, import a picture and create, take and manage notes, and create presentations, and even practice handwriting. There are also feature lesson plans from other teachers to access. Under non-linguistics, I currently use Web 2.0 tools like Prezi in place of PowerPoint because it is more streamlined for students with sequencing difficulties. I was recently I introduced to the beta version of for a graphic representation of resùmè development. For brainstorming, Mindomo has been effective particularly for 11 years old plus.
Regarding collaborative learning, I would add the following to the list: Google Hang-out, Skype, and/or ( more secure than Skype, but has a monthly fee). I currently use the latter two daily depending on the nature of the conversations. Finally, in the area of setting objectives and providing feedback, I simply recommend texting and Google calendar. For example, I homeschool our son. I use texting to help set goals for the day and Google calendar to confirm exams, tutorial sessions, and other appointments. As far as feedback, we share screens via TeamMeeting or Skype. TeamMeeting allows us to use use one cursor and edit together which allows me to be across the room from him and not over his shoulder. While it is similar toGoogle docs, it seems a bit more effective for our needs.


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I feel like the links and posts do represent my learning from the recent past and present. I felt relieved to have a place to consolidate. I enjoyed the process so much, I am beginning to think this is the best way to manage my student’s progress overtime. The way I made the documenting decisions was based on my saved files on my hard drive and social networks I already belong too. I am sure I have left information out that just isn’t apparent, but I feel like I have a handle on my own representation. 
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The Carson Project – A Current Proposal

A Collaboration between Agri-Science Opportunities and TEACCH at UNC

The Carson Project Mission Statement

“To facilitate transitions for individuals with high-functioning ASD to independent adulthood in a structured and supportive agricultural environment that leads to certification and/or employment opportunities and careers paths.”

The collaboration is between the private and public sector to create a vision that adapts today’s reality and tomorrow’s needs for high-functioning ASD young adults. It acknowledges changes in our economy, our workplace and world. The project treats each individual, educator, professional, parent and caregiver as a consumer so that the outcomes meet the needs of the consumers. It requires total community support, while holding each stakeholder accountable. It represents a direction, a hope, a commitment to place high-functioning ASD adults on a path of support so that they experience “meaningful and stable employment in predictable and rewarding work environments” (“Teacch autism program,” 2013).

The five pillars that will support this collaboration are : Safety, Resources, Services, People, and Quality. Within each pillar are specific goals for each individual, objectives and measures that are designed in collaboration with TEACCH and Agri-Science for each individual. As a result, initiatives and projects result in direct support of the goals and objectives.

These pillars are currently in alignment with the Models of Support already established within the UNC TEACCH Autism Program: “One-to-One Placement, Mobile Crew, Group Shared Support Site, and Standard Placement” (“Teacch autism program,” 2013).

Currently, UNC’s vocational opportunities include Manufacturing, Food Service, Office or Clerical, Landscaping, Grocery or Warehouse, Libraries, and Janitorial Services. Including the Agri-Science component creates another added value. As Temple Grandin has taught us through her 30 years of research and autism advocacy, “animals think in pictures and notice more details in their environment than most humans do” – except for the ASD population. This project would  make her research a reality, provide superior training in modern-day agriculture, ensure young adults have an opportunity to gain necessary employability skills, add to economic growth, and give hope to many families and students who feel trapped by their teen or young adult’s ASD diagnosis. It would naturally incorporate sensory-motor needs on a daily basis. As you know, fear stops these teens from performing in the same way fear stops cows from doing particular tasks. If we know these things to be true, then an agricultural environment naturally takes into account the special needs automatically.

The Carson Project Vision

The Vision of the Carson Project is to train people with high-functioning ASD to work as consultants in food, water, and energy production, innovative marketing strategies, cattle genetic advancements, agri-science education and technology,  and research that improves the human condition worldwide.

Since the economy, energy, technology, and the food condition are changing rapidly, the private industry of Agri-Science Opportunities envisions the possibility of training high-performing workers to utilize information, solve real world problems, and become an integral part of the agri-science industry. The project is modeled after its predecessor in the Denmark, “Specialisterne (the name means “the specialists”) founded by Thorkil Sonne. His company trains people with autism as specially skilled employees who are sent out as hourly consultants to companies to do data entry, assembly work and other jobs that many workers would find tedious and repetitive” (Tachibana, 2009). In this country,  Aspiritech, a non-profit Chicago company, “trains high-functioning autistics as testers for software development companies” (Tachibana, 2009).

While the overall field of agriculture is considered the second most dangerous type of work, it is not limited to the use of machinery or 1000 pound animals. It is diverse, requires specific skills and encompasses specific technology. In Temple Grandin’s book Developing Talents, she writes, “Society loses out if individuals with autism spectrum disorders are not involved in the world of work, or make other kinds of contributions to society” (Grandin, 2004).

Agri-Science Opportunities needs reliable people for web design, highly specialized accounting, plumbing for water sources, electricians for general and specific purposes, farm repairs, unique landscaping, research, graphic design and commercial art, engineering design for farming, and consulting. These types of businesses are highly specialized, need creative problem solving, and use visual thinking skills. UNC TEACCH is the link to helping high-functioning ASD people manage their sensory systems and other challenges that a work environment poses. The following is a link from the Nantucket Project: It is a video of distinguished experts, founders, and advocates for ASD people in the workplace. Carly Fleishmann, author and autism advocate, is the special guest. She is completely non-verbal, but is able to communicate extensively through technology. She is accompanied by her support person, Howard Dela. I add this reference to prove the importance of creating opportunities for this population.


The initial high priority needs are as follows:

  • Bridge the gap for high-functioning Asperger an AD/HD young adults between high school and college.

  • Create an alternative one-to-one teaching/training/mentoring experience for students to gain specific expertise.

The existing one-to-one model that is in place through UNC-TEACCH would be the standard of the supported internship and/or employment. The program would in effect be a tripod system. A student team would comprise a student specialist from the NC State Agricultural Department who applies for this specific internship program through a collaboration formed between Agri-Science Opportunities, UNC TEACCH and N.C. State Agricultural department. It is a direct fit with Agri-Science Opportunities structures, the model of one-to-one support from UNC- TEACCH which includes a personal job coach, and offers NC State students expanded unique opportunities in agriculture and shaping the future of another human.

A training program would consist of a syllabus and  job-performance outcomes that can lead to other intern programs, employment and/or certification depending on the strengths and interests of the student. While field training will be essential, there is also classroom training for reframing that teaches how to change a negative situation into positive ones, safety while on site, nomenclature, technology, tools,  and systems training. In this first stage of the program, a student and his team could participate two to three days a week in the program. The time frame would vary depending on the nature of the applicant.

This program has the potential to be a model for others across the nation and the globe. It is innovative. It can be sustained, and it will have a direct social impact on the local families and communities. It has the power to change the landscape for people who are high-functioning Asperger and/or AD/HD.

There can also be an admissions criteria to include the following:

  • 18-26 years old who have graduated high school with a regular diploma

  • Documented diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, High-Functioning Autism, PDD-NOS, ADHD, NLD, Dyslexia or other Learning Differences

  • High level of motivation to meet program goals

  • Emotional, behavioral, and psychologically stability

The process could be as follows:

  • Fully completed application
  • A nonrefundable application processing fee
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) or Wechsler Adult Intelligence   Scale (WAIS) (no more than two years prior to application)
  • Woodcock Johnson Achievement or Wechsler Individual Achievement Test          (WIAT) (no more than two years prior to application)
  • Current Psychological Evaluation/Mental Status Exam
  • Completed Parent Questionnaire
  • 2 Letters of reference
  • Resume if applicable
  • Official High School Transcripts/Previous College Transcripts
  • Student Photo
  • Latest IEP (if applicable)
  • Completion of Highlands Battery for Natural Abilities for best placement options


Since this program would be driven by UNC-TEACCH, it is important to create a conversation about current funding for the existing One-to-One Model. Funding sources need to include state and federal grants, private grants from a variety of foundations, agencies, individual donors and parent groups.

There are several listed below with potential benefits:

Driving Scientific Initiative with Innovation in Autism, LLC – allows us to invest in for-profit entities

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

The Abilities Fund –

Association for Enterprise Opportunity –

Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) -Social Security Administration


Grandin, T. (2004). Developing talents: Careers for individuals with asperger syndrome   and high-functioning autism. Shawnee Mission: Autism Asperger Publishing Co.

Scott, T. (Co-Founder) (2012). God-like technology. [Web Video]. Retrieved from

Tachibana, C. (2009, 12 08). Autism seen as asset, not liability, in some jobs. Retrieved from

Teacch autism program. (2013). Retrieved from

Teacch autism program. (2013). Retrieved from

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Broadcast Yourself

I used USTREAM ( to conduct a discussion about “being social”  which actually lead into a discussion about what a school day would look like when social gets in the way. Most of the participants agreed that online learning or one-to-one environments cures the social problem if there is one for an individual. The participants ranged in age from 13-21.  While the conversation proved to be of some value, the experience was frustrating for all users.

It was a fail overall from a technology point of view. Skype and  Google Hang-out are far more efficient, but I wanted to try a site that I was unfamiliar with so that I could compare. The good news is that I had up to eleven people join, but not all were able to directly participate because of a variety of issues: unable to comment on participant’s end, unable to type in the box because it was skipping letters and would not send, did not seem to interface as easily using an iPad, for a different student the stream wouldn’t work without refreshing, the text box offered limited characters so you could not complete a thought, and by the time we decided to go through FB, the session had ended! Interestingly, broadcasting and recording were quite efficient, but the feedback had a seven second delay and clearly stated that, but when working in real-time, it’s too much of a delay. All of my posts were obnoxiously attached to my Facebook and Twitter pages, and I had to unpopulate them which I easily did. I did not like that I could not hear my audience. It made me feel like I was talking to myself. I was hoping for a talk-show like interface, but that did not happen. I am so glad that it was my own students, cousins and kids who joined this broadcast because they had enough patience and understood the purpose.

I “advertised” it via text mails, and Facebook public and private messages. Tonight was my air date because I have been traveling between Florida and Utah for a educational consultant trip. Luckily, I returned by Saturday at midnight to complete this project.

In conclusion, I will not use USTREAM, and I will stick with Google Hang-Out for webinars for now.


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Live Broadcasts

My son must attend a live collaboration lesson for English or Leadership once a semester on a particular topic. So this time, I sat in on two of them with him. The first was the English assignment on betrayal which would become the study of Julius Caesar. Jake really struggled through the live webinar. It’s purpose is to engage students enrolled in the class in a collaborative setting. It’s drawbacks to Jake, at least, include the speed of it – it goes to fast for him. He finds them confusing. The voice of the teacher is usually too southern or high-pitched. He was just bored and tuned out within ten minutes of the hour long presentation. It was so dissatisfying that he could not even respond to the final component for a grade of attendance. He failed. However, in his tutorial class on Julius Caesar, he is passing with 90s and above. So the format was not successful for him.

In his leadership class, he had the option to attend a live webinar. Based on his past experiences, I had the inclination that he would not choose to attend. He did, but it was special. Mawi Asgedom was the presenter. He is the author of Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard © 2011 Associated Press. Jake has found him inspiring throughout the course. That is why is choose to attend the hour long webinar without complaint. Here is what he wrote about his experience:

I was at the Mawi live lesson on 2/19/13.
There were many things that Mawi talked about but mostly was about bullying. He talked about something that he does to help teach other students how to stand up for themselves. For me I have been bullied for most of my life until I was home schooled. These stories were very nice to here because it shows that other people will stand up for you.

Jake received a 100. It was interactive and you could write in questions. Jake choose not to, but he did choose to stay engaged the whole time and even talked more about it to us at dinner that night. What a promising difference between the English webinar and the Leadership one.

While, the above was a personal experience, I also discovered my own preferences. I am a big fan of I had downloaded the EDUCATION topic with Sir Ken Robinson, one of my favorite presenters, and had a chance to watch and listen to one of his newer conversations: Bring on the learning revolution. I also searched for other broadcasts from the list provided. I tried some out, but become quickly bored with them. While the titles and descriptions intrigued me, the content did not hold my attention beyond 10 minutes. The one that I really wanted to delve into was not being broadcast until later in the month which posed a timing issue. So, I went back to my iTunes library and refreshed my memory of my favorite presenters.

The show format of is strength. I cannot allude to any weaknesses. It is caring, passionate, and poignant. It is not rambling. The presenters bring energy to the stage. You want to listen, take notes, stay engage and re-listen or re-watch. I find myself saving the broadcasts to participate in future shows. But even though I am not participating directly like in other types of broadcasts by exchanging my name or actually meeting the facilitator, I actually feel that I am because gives me the opportunity to listen, reflect and add to my library of quotes, expressions, and useful commentaries.  This type of webcast can be incorporated into the classroom in a variety of ways depending on the teacher and ages of students.  As a learner, I prefer choice as with this assignment. The task was clear, but how we arrived at the answers for discussion purposes relied on my choices. It made me care more – generally, a missing factor for preteens and teens sitting in classroom desks. While I like watching video within a classroom, I prefer watching independently. I can start, rewind, review, takes notes and/or pause on my terms which keeps me more engaged. Another example might be pre-watching in the classroom, and then having the opportunity to independently watch.  If I had a classroom, I might use programming like I use Pinterest or blogging. I would want students to create their own collection of webcasts that have the most meaning to them. It would be my job as the facilitator to introduce the topics, and the students’ job to collect a library of favorites in a blog devoted specifically to favorite shows. I would want students to be able to find a quote used, the title to the referencing to a book or author and save it to their blog. For example, Sir Ken Robinson, referenced a quote from Abraham Lincoln and the poet W.B. Yeats. It had meaning to me, so I added to my collection. While this is a time heavy task, it is an added value and brings perspective and meaning to the table.  Since the collaborators of has assigned creative commons license, it allows me as a broadcaster to incorporate clips that might be relevant to a webinar that I might produce. It offers me creative licensing which allows for a better integrated message.

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