Assistive Software – Inclusion in the Classroom

There are a number of assistive-type softwares that may help students with access to learning in the classroom. The following focuses on writing, reading, and vision supports. Most are free and can be easily downloaded by the student.

  • EASE of ACCESS: This group of tools offers simple word prediction through the on-screen keyboard, magnifier (for vision support)… Click here for instructions. Note the different ways to gain access whether you are a teacher or student.
  • SpeakIt:  Google Chrome extension that provides text-to-speech for most web content. Has a range of voices and languages to choose. Options are available to adjust the speaking rate and pitch of voice. This is a good one!
  • ClaroSpeak_chromeiconClaroSpeak: Google Chrome extension is a simple text-to-speech reader with word prediction, editing, proofing and speaking dictionary. There is also a more powerful paid app for ipads that includes access to pdf.
  • Rewordify: This is a site that I’ve written about before and is well worth repeating. (Click here for previous post) Any text can be pasted into the box and it will return a simplified version – very quickly I might add. One of the options deserves highlighting. Retaining the original word within the text, while offering a simpler form provides two things: increase of comprehension and increase of vocabulary. Sitting side by side, relationships between the difficult term and easier one is visually connected. As well, the integrated dictionary allows access to almost all of the words in the selection. Finally, the content can be printed and stored.
  • Word Talk on MSWord:  Text-to-Speech toolbar is part of computer images (click on the tab, ADD-INS). This toolbar provides reading support as well as a simple word prediction dictionary.

wordtalk

  • Kidspiration and Inspiration (graphic organizer to writing):  While this is not technically assistive software, it does have a sound recorder that can support memory or as an audio file embedded within the graphic organizer. The recorder will also show up in Outline Writing view. This provides a seamless process from ideas generation to written output.  All sd41 teachers can have a personal full copy of the software for home use. (See our FORMS page for information on TAKE-HOME software.)
  • Kurzweil 3000: This software is the cadillac of assistive softwares. It will read almost any digital information (print, electronic, pdf or the Web) in clear, synthetic speech, while a dual highlighting feature adds visual reinforcement.  This provides a digital means of engaging with text and supports those students who require alternative methods for accessing, writing and recording information. Click here for more information.
  • iWordQ-CA ($29): This is an ipad app that mimics a simple version of what you would expect from the more robust Kurzweil 3000. In writing mode, text editor includes word prediction, spell checker, dictionary and speech recognition. In reading mode, text-to-speech offers proofing and reading options.
  • Add language keyboards to Win7 devices – access other languages through added keyboards. Click here for instructions.

Do you have any favourites that integrate with reading or writing? Drop a comment in the box below. I’d love to add to the list.

“Citizenship” is Everyone’s Business

February 1st is the 32nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, the day before Groundhog Day, digicit_relationshipsthe day (1920) of the newly established Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  But more importantly, it is the official launch of our Digital Citizenship Initiative (K-7).

While some may hone in on the word, “digital” implying that it is related to computer lab activities or technology classes, we suggest it is plain “Citizenship”. And everyone is responsible for learning and modeling citizenship (both in-person and online). At the heart of this, resides the core values and beliefs that we all hold.  This in turn, drive our behaviours and actions.

Citizenship is fully integrated in the new curriculum. It is embedded in the Core Competencies of Personal and Social competency. As well you will find targeted Curricular Competencies in every curriculum including the latest draft Applied Design, Skills and Technologies.

The Digital Citizenship Initiative has been divided into themes:

  • February – Relationships and Communication
  • March – Internet Safety
  • April – Footprints and Reputation
  • May – Cyberbullying
  • June – Credit and Copyright

Lesson launches are provided as starting points for teachers and students. As well, there is a FOR PARENTS area to explore at home with family. Keeping open communication is key to understanding how one lives and learns in all the environments we encounter. Schools have been invited to participate and share their class stories through school websites, principal newsletters, home communications, and PAC meetings. We are in this journey together. DCcontest

For classes, there is an added bonus – a monthly DC contest starting this month. Hop on over to the Digital Citizenship Contest page or click on the DC button found on your school’s website for information. We sincerely hope you’ll join us as we learn together.

We’d love to hear stories that you may wish to share. Please leave a comment below.

Learning Sessions – Making the Most of Fast ForWord

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Fall is definitely in the air – crisp, clean and clear.  For those of you starting Fast ForWord or returning after a break, we have set this year’s 3 part series:

  * October 15, October 27, December 1; 8:30-12:00 at Schou-TLC

Each session will build upon each other (from neuroscience basics, how the program fits, what it does, reading reports and implementing timely interventions).

*Please email me if you have not signed up (sd41). 

There are a host of topics on webinars that you may be interested in taking advantage (click here):  

  • 2015 Dyslexia Research and Remediation (October is Dyslexia Month)  
  • Literacy for ELL 
  • Autism: New Research and Interventions
  • Inside the Brain of the Struggling Reader

Connectedness & Relationships

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Welcome back. Exciting things are afoot… This month is all about connecting and relationship building. Behind every one of those faces are stories waiting to be heard.

Changes to both our infrastructure and Fast ForWord content is going to make this an exciting year. If you are interested in having this program in your building, please contact me (there will be training in October).  If you are a continuing site, here are some possibilities to consider:

  • new 3 day protocol with 40 minutes or 90 minutes available (*consider getting as close to 200 minutes/week as your goal for success). This may provide timetable flexibility to some sites.
  • new reports – detailing immediate achievement
  • Raz-Kids (our famous online support for reading fluency and comprehension) has changed its weblink and management look. New weblink is: kidsa-z.com (Please ensure that you have changed your links on class blogs and school websites.) This program is great for classroom teachers. Applications are found > FORMS
  • ARC-BC – register for a new year. Information and training: http://www.arc-bc.org/
  • New BC curriculum – get the latest to explore –  https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/

Celebrations

Around this time of year, the terms of celebration, myquote_celebrate_500reflection and sharing, become even more of a focus. It’s almost cyclical in nature. Beyond the “let’s have a party to showcase all the end products”, I wonder about the little things. Things like perseverance and tenacity and the courage to turn around and face the dragons of failure. I wonder how those are recognized and celebrated in such ways as to give them power. I wonder if we truly understand how much effort is needed for some of our students to acquire the smallest of steps (though mountains to them). I wonder if the students believe it when we congratulate them on achieving those steps. I wonder how we take that spark, started with determination and sometimes “downright fear” and lift it up so they can share their success in ways that help others grow and gives dignity to the learner.

I doubt there is one answer. Many ideas come to mind, past and present. While these may be overt and probably fun, they may yet capture the essence of the journey.  How do you grow and share the sparks?