Door Stoppers / Pinch Guards for Your Classroom

Problem: At my school, I often want to keep my heavy, automatically-locking door open just a crack so I and the kids can get back in. Using a traditional wedge door-stop works but it often gets stepped on or kicked. Now I use these pinch guards. When not in use, I use velcro on the wall to keep them close-by. All-in, it costs like $2 per door and they work very well!

Pinch-guard

Velcro

Some tips:

  • I had tried similar, popular horseshoe-shaped pinch guards but they work well on the thick door.
  • Use long pieces of velcro on both the pinch-guard and the doorway, it makes it easier to stick them to the wall quickly.
  • For the velcro, remember to put the “soft on the surface”. It makes it easier to feel the rough part on the pinch guard and it’s good to establish that as the norm in your room, you can stick objects onto fabric (a good stand-in for soft velcro).

Keyboard and Mouse Blocking Software for Your Classroom

The problem: In the special education classrooms I work in, students sometimes interrupt computer presentations from the teacher by randomly hitting the teacher’s computer keyboard. With this software, the keyboard and mouse are locked until a special key combination is pushed, for example: Ctrl-Alt-F. So now teachers can easily unlock their computers and they are immune to “fly-by” keyboard tapping.

To get around this problem, I got this free Windows software utility approved for use in my school district.

Here it is: BlueLife KeyFreeze v1.4

Just in case, here is a local copy of the Bluelife KeyFreeze 1.4.

It is free software and works well. It works great “out of the box” but want to open up the Options page on the system tray to set it just how you like it. I turned off the cute lock/unlock “music” and customized it to how I like it.

Installing it takes a couple steps (I’m not complaining, it’s totally free software!), I’ll walk you through it.

1 – Download and unzip BlueLife KeyFreeze

2 – It doesn’t install itself, it just runs when you double-click on it. I copied all the files to a new folder named C:\Programs\Keyfreeze

3 – You should make it start automatically when Windows starts. Here’s how to do that: Go to the C:\Programs\Keyfreeze folder and create a shortcut to KeyFreeze_x64.exe by right-clicking on it. Hit Win+R. Type “shell:startup” to open up the Windows startup folder. Drag the shortcut you just made into that folder. Done!

For difficult classroom situations, you might want to disable the touch-screen and the “turn computer off when closing the lid” features:

– On my computer, here’s how to disable the touch-screen. Hit the Windows key, type “Device manager”, find the “Human Interface Devices”, find the “HID Compliant touch screen”, Click the “driver” tab, click “Disable Device”. You can re-enable the touch screen by coming back to this page and clicking “Enable Device”

– To disable the “Turn off the computer when closing the lid” feature, hit the Windows key, type “change what closing the lid does”, Change “When I close the lid” to “do nothing”.

I’d love to hear in the comments if this software was useful in your classroom!

 

This Will Destroy You

I’ve become an enthusiastic yet strangely melancholic fan of the band This Will Destroy You, this post-ambient, syncopated, instrumental rock band. Their music makes me feel like I’m being gently smothered by a giant tabby cat while sleeping, only for me to leap up, gasping for the most delicious breath of my life. Oh yeah.

Let’s see them together on February 8th in Berkeley, CA at The Cornerstone!

Here’s one of their cat-breath-stealing hits https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbszJJr9I9U

 

 

Which way does velcro go?

As an occupational therapist, I attach all kinds of things with Velcro. It’s also known as hook and loop fasteners. I use Velcro for PECS cards, game cards, attaching stuff to my door, First-Then cards, and lots of other stuff. I asked myself, “What is the best way to mount Velcro?” Do the hooks/rough side go on the wall or the object?

Here’s the rule that I follow… the Velcro rule!

“Soft goes on the surface.”

Why?

  • If you put the hooked side on the hand-held object, the picture, or whatever, then you can attach that object to felt, cloth, or headliner material
  • Holding the rough side gives the user good tactile feedback. That makes it a little easier to figure how to place the object onto the soft side.

By picking one standard, all your items become compatible with one another. So even if you don’t have an immediate need, everyone is better off sticking to the standard “Soft goes on the surface.”

(I have to thank The Practical AAC for advice on this!)

 

Looking for Noisy-environment speech recognition microphone

Please help me find a good noisy-environment speech recognition microphone. I have students that want to use speech-to-text in their classroom, the microphone should pick up the student’s voice but not stray voices in the room. Best if it’s on a headset.

Butchart Gardens Fireworks Are AMAZING

Megan, Abigail and I just saw the summer fireworks show at The Butchart Gardens near Victoria, BC. It was an even more beautiful show than we had seen 5 years ago on our honeymoon! The show is a gorgeous, playful, exposition of light-art, part representative, part interpretive, all pleasurable! A youtube search turns up some nice displays at Butchart Gardens but be forewarned that no fireworks show well on a screen.

I spoke with a few people in Victoria, BC about this and they said that Canadians use fireworks differently than Americans. American fireworks are almost universally a monosyllabic ejaculation of sound and color while Canadians use it as a medium. Curious! Wonderful!