What’s in my Bag- High School Edition


It wasn’t until high school that I heavily started using technology in the classroom. I’m glad I did have the opportunity to learn about technology though, as I use it constantly in college. Here are the items I brought to high school with me daily. Note that I had an IEP with approval to use any technology.

The backpack

At my high schools, students were allowed to bring their backpacks from class to class, as long as they fit certain dimensions. I received special permission my senior year to use a rolling backpack, since I had back problems. Before that, I used a backpack with a laptop sleeve that could hold up to a 17″ laptop and had several pockets.

Laptop

I got approval to use a laptop in school starting the second semester of ninth grade. It was rare to see technology in the classroom, and assistive technology was unheard of. As a result, my first high school did not allow students to connect to the internet. I frequently used Office applications such as OneNote to take notes, Word to type assignments, and PowerPoint to follow along in class. I also was able to read textbooks and complete digital assignments, which were given to me by flash drive.

eReader

I have an entire post about how much I love my eReader here, but I wanted to include it here because it really did help me a lot in school. Being able to quickly get books in large print, and being able to fit an entire library in my hand, was extremely helpful when I had to read books in class.

iPad

Because of the lack of internet services, I didn’t start heavily using my iPad (purchased the summer before my sophomore year) until my junior year of high school, when I transferred to a new school- read more about my second high school here. I started heavily using different apps in the classroom (read my post on different apps here) and used my iPad to research information, work on virtual classes, and complete digital classwork with the app Notability. I had some textbooks on my iPad, but not many, since my virtual classes did not require textbooks.

Android phone

My Android phone was one of the first technology devices I ever used in the classroom. I used it as a magnifier and simple calculator, as well as a camera. I made sure to notify my teacher before I used my phone, so they would know it was for an educational purpose.

Magnifier

I had a small magnifier that I didn’t like using much, since the magnification would make my eyes hurt a lot, plus it was difficult for my eyes to focus. I still carried it anyway, but it was not very helpful.

Ear plugs

One day, I went to school very sick and found that my normally excellent hearing wasn’t working very well. Weirdly enough, I aced every quiz and test I had that day, because I was tuning out a lot of the background noises that normally bothered me. After that, I started using ear plugs for assessments and found that it was easier to concentrate.

Portable scanner

Instead of leaving class when my materials were not enlarged, I decided to try and make my own accessible materials. My mom bought me a portable scanner that hooked up to my computer, and I would scan in the inaccessible materials into Microsoft Word, and then make them accessible. This didn’t work very well if the page had anything other than text, and it took a long time to scan in, but it was a temporary solution to an ongoing problem. I now recommend the ScanMarker Air instead, as it scans much faster and more accurately.  Review here.

Sharpie pens

These were written in as an accommodation to my IEP, as students were normally not allowed to use pens in the classroom. I like the extra fine Sharpie pens in a variety of colors, and never had any issues with them leaking or breaking.

Rainbow paper

I received all of my paper assignments on colored paper, because it is easier to read text on a colored background- read more about that here. This was written into my IEP as well, and I had slightly different print accommodations for each subject- read about my accommodations for print materials here. It’s worth noting I did not use folders, due to the size of the paper.

Even though my school district had limited technology resources, I’m grateful that I was able to use all of these different devices, which helped prepare me for college tremendously. Read about what’s in my bag at college here.

What’s in my Bag- Class Edition


As a college student with low vision, chronic pain, and chronic migraines, the items I bring to class to help me succeed are often vastly different than my classmates. This doesn’t mean I have an unfair advantage, but rather that I use different tools to ensure my success in the classroom. Here are the items that I often have when I go to my classes. For reference, I live on campus, have a file with Disability Services for use of assistive technology, and my university embraces the use of student technology.Writing

Sharpie Pens

I use this ultra fine tip pens for writing on assignments in lieu of pencil when needed. I try to get materials digital whenever possible, especially because I have dysgraphia, but sometimes there are assignments where the teacher is worried about having a digital copy floating around. I tend to use bright colors, though try to avoid red whenever possible.

Scented Markers

I decided to try these out on a whim for my math class this semester, and they have been a phenomenal resource. The scented markers are easy to hold and write/draw with. Why scented markers? There is a study that shows that having the same scent in the learning and testing environment helps with memory retention, and I use different colors for different topics when studying.

Cardstock

With the use of pens and markers, I need paper that will not fall apart or bleed through. I got a large package of cardstock that is 8.5″ x 11″ from Amazon, and it has been excellent for doing scratch work.

Personal Technology

Microsoft Surface

I use a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, with Windows 10, in my classes that require a lot of typing or the use of Windows apps. Some of the classrooms have very small desks, and I have found that the Surface easily stays put and doesn’t hang off the edge of the desk. Check out how to make Windows 10 accessible here!

iPad

Oh, my beloved iPad. I have no idea what I would do without it. In addition to the apps I use in the classroom (more on that here), I also use it for internet research and for class activities. It’s a lightweight device, something I appreciate when I have to walk around the classroom.  Check out how to make iPad accessible here!

Android Phone

While I don’t use this as frequently in the classroom as my other two devices, my phone is a fantastic resource for apps. Some examples include a portable scanner, discreet magnifier, and apps from my iPad synced to my phone. Not many of my professors have a no-phone policy, but the ones who did had no problem with letting me use mine, as long as I had headphones plugged in or sound otherwise disabled.  Check out how to make Android accessible here!

Assistive Technology

E-Bot Pro

Depending on the class, I would bring my E-Bot Pro to help magnify items. Even though it is lightweight by CCTV standards, I bring it in a rolling bag or a similar method because of the weight on my shoulders and back. I have most frequently used the E-Bot Pro in math and science classes, and teachers have been very receptive to it. It usually requires an additional desk for me to be able to use it.  Review here.

SmartLux

My portable CCTV has been an awesome resource, especially in my English classes. One example of when I used it is to read a graphic novel/comic that was not available digitally. I especially appreciate the built-in stand.  Review here.

Pain relief

Peppermint essential oil

When I feel a migraine coming on, sniffing peppermint essential oil helps me to delay (not prevent) the symptoms of a migraine from taking over. Having peppermint scented items has a similar effect- one of my friends wears a necklace that acts as a diffuser for essential oils.

Lidocaine Patch

If I suddenly have a spasm or intense pain, I will go to the bathroom and apply one of these. The cooling, numbing effect helps me begin to manage the pain. Just make sure to take them off after twelve hours. Mine were prescribed by my neurologist, but there is a version available over the counter as well.

Compression Sleeve

When I have numbness/pain in my arms or legs during class, I will put on a copper-infused compression sleeve to help with symptoms. I keep one for my arm and one for my leg.

Nonperishable snack

I keep two small protein bars in my backpack for when there is a break during class or when I can’t concentrate on anything but food. My teachers don’t usually mind students having small, non-messy foods. I would recommend not having any with peanuts or peanut butter, in case someone is allergic.

Ear Plugs

In one of the buildings on campus, there is a very noisy fan that makes it difficult to concentrate. These ear plugs have been great with helping me focus on what’s important, and are extremely comfortable too.

Unless I am bringing my E-Bot Pro, all of these items easily fit into my rolling backpack, and I have had no issues with bringing them around campus. If needed, I will put everything else into a backpack and then put the E-Bot Pro into the rolling backpack. All of these materials are stored easily underneath my desk or in front of my feet.