How do we help students with their reading in the classroom or in LSS while they are moving through Fast ForWord? There are times when having access to the same reading materials as everyone else is important. Especially true when you wish to practice comprehension and engage in group discussions. Although there are many options available to you, I will focus on two: ebooks and assistive technology – Kurzweil3000.
Using eBOOKS (or electronic books) is a great access equalizer. Ebooks have become very popular as a part of the multi-literacies approach as it is flexible enough to be used on a computer, or as a download to mp3 players or other readers. Depending on the actual ebook, students gain the supports of the audio component and/or a visual component. Audiobooks can be downloaded directly to mp3 players or ipods for a “read anytime, anywhere” option. Books that are organized as ‘talking books’ or ‘video books’ provide another layer of differentiation – images. In both cases, students no longer have to expend massive brain energy on decoding. They can practice increasing comprehension along with their classmates. A definite plus on the side of inclusion and social emotional development.
WHERE OH WHERE?: You can find many sources for ebooks online. Try: AudioOwl, Planet ebook, Lit2Go, Speakaboos (with closed caption), Science books online (secondary), LibriVox. See delicious account for a longer list.
Kurzweil 3000 is part of the assistive technology wave. It is a software program that has many applications: reads almost anything in digital formats (whether they are downloaded or on the web), has a study skills component with highlighters and post-it note functions, a writing/editing portion with a word prediction dictionary that can be individualized. As well, for the teacher, there is a handy option of adding popup comprehension prompts (which the student must answer) directly within the reading material – what a bonus! The intent here is again, access. Students can participate fully in classroom related activities like Literature Circles, or Social Studies research and debates.
WHERE OH WHERE?: Many resources have already been developed for use with Kurzweil. ArcBC has been compiling e-text resources – you need an account to use it. (*Please notify your district Learning Support Services teacher to help you with this site.) If you are interested in Kurzweil and how it integrates into the classroom or school, please email me or any member of our district Learning Technologies team.