Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs

tlwmsnIf you need a terrific resource for ideas, activities, accommodations and supports for students with complex disabilities and learning needs, then the Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs blog is just what you’ve been looking for!  Kate Ahern, an assistive technology specialist and special education teacher hosts this blog with countless resources to use and share.

 

If you need ideas for use of a single message switch, free online switch games, ideas for AAC, links to free and low cost pictures, iPad and app ideas, transition activities, accommodations for students with Autism or any of the other countless supports focused on students with significant needs, then head over to Kate’s blog today!  It will become a constant and valued resource that you will return to again and again!

Find and Access Audio Books for Your Students

audiobookAudio books can be transformative for students who struggle with reading or are not engaged with print text.  Audio books can tap into audio comprehension, increase fluency and provide a bridge to improved reading skills.  Educators Technology and Mobile Learning has curated 10 (mostly free) sites that provide high quality audio books, available to ALL students and ALL readers.  From early childhood and young readers through middle and high school, educators and parents can find titles suited to every child.

Check each one out for your students’ needs.

10 Great Places to Find and Access Audiobooks for Students

My personal favorites:

Find the latest from Educators Technology and Mobile Learning on Twitter at @medkh9

 

Magic Scroll Chrome Extension

magic-scroll graphicMagic Scroll Web Reader is an extension for the Chrome browser, free in the Chrome Web Store.  Once downloaded, simply open a web page with text, click on the Magic Scroll icon in the upper right portion of the browser bar.  A clean view of the text is displayed as consecutive pages in a book.  Click the play arrow, lower right to begin scrolling vertically through lines of text.  Adjust the speed with the + and – buttons, also lower right.  Use the slider tool, upper left, to adjust settings such as font size and color scheme.

Magic Scroll can assist with visual focus while reading text on web pages, with options to adjust features to meet the needs of various users.  The user can even pause scrolling and utilize a text to speech extension, such as SpeakIT! to hear the text read aloud.

 

Closed Captioning Improves Literacy

Closed_captioning_symbol.svgCaptioning, or Closed Captioning, has a proven track record of improving literacy for learners of all ages.

In one randomized study, students engaged daily in content with “Same Language Subtitling” scored significantly higher than students in the comparison condition on the reading comprehension achievement post tests.  Data from PlanetRead has shown that even 30 minutes of weekly exposure to SLS or captioning over 3-5 years, enables adults and children with basic familiarity of the alphabet to become functionally literate.  The science underlying SLS and captioning is strong. Eye-tracking research has established that SLS causes an automatic and inescapable read-along response. Early-readers when exposed to SLS or captions, try to read along, and in the process, find their reading skills improving.

This free and simple tool is available to parents, educators, and anyone trying to help someone improve their reading skills! Closed Captioning is available on most devices including TV, Digital Cable, Satellite, DVD’s and many internet video channels such as YouTube.  Simply turn on this feature and captions become immediately available.  In addition, many educational video sites and organizations with digital content provide Closed Captions on their content.

Turn on captioning to turn on reading!  To find everything from how to turn on captioning, to finding sites with captioned content, visit Captions for Literacy.  (@Caps4Lit)

 

EPIC – eBooks and Audiobooks

epicEpic! – Unlimited Books for Kids is a subscription based digital book resource for children ages 12 and under. While the individual cost is $4.99 per month, Epic is available to educators for free!

Register, create student profiles, assign books, attach quizzes, and track reading progress (time and pages read).  Over 10,000 ebooks are available, along with Audio Books and Read-Along books, and over 500 Spanish/English bilingual books.  Additional books are added each month.  Books can be read on any digital platform, or made available offline (there is a web-based portal, and apps in the Chrome Web Store, iTunes Store and Google Play Store).

Epic’s service includes a variety of fiction & non-fiction from leading publishers. It’s been called the “Netflix” of books for kids!

With all of the options available, this is a terrific tool for Universal Design for Learning and differentiation!

Watch this video to get started with your Free Educator account. @EpicKidsBooks

 

C-Pen Portable Text Reader

c penThe C-Pen Reader and C-Pen Exam Reader, developed in the United Kingdom, is now available in the US!  This latest, significant, advancement in portable text reading technology for users of all ages.

The C-Pens allow for more independent reading, helping eucators and parents move away from reading aloud to students.  While the pens offer differing features, both read-aloud of words as well as lines of text, built-in speaker and earphone jack, rechargeable battery, viewable font from 6.5 – 22, and only weigh 1.8 oz!

The C-Pen Reader also features instant word lookup in the dictionary and the ability to scan and save to file for copying or transferring to your computer.

The C-Pen Exam Reader is an allowable exam accommodation in the United Kingdom, can we envision the day where this type of portable tool is approved for standardized US assessments?

School Health has begun carrying both pens in the US:  C-Pen Reader from School Health & C-Pen Exam Reader from School Health. Follow them on Twitter @schoolhealth or @EnableMart.

Project Gutenberg – Free Classic eBooks and Audio Books

project gutenberg app iconProject Gutenberg – not your Grandmother’s old, weathered text!  New, upgraded features and options make this long-standing resource worth another look.  Project Gutenberg offers over 50,000 free public-domain ebooks, along with tens of thousands more through partners and affiliates.  Most of the classics are included, providing digital access for diverse learners.  Choose among free epub books for reading on any computer, Chromebook, tablet or iPad/iPhone, or Kindle.  Download them or read them online, with or without images, with or without audio.  Many books, through partner Librivox, are human-read for a significantly improved audio listening experience, or access the Audio Book, Human Read Category.

Access books directly through the Project Gutenberg Website or download an app (Gutenberg Project iPad app or Gutenberg Books Android app).  For more information on book downloads, access the Gutenberg How-To page for mobile devices.  Follow on Twitter @gutenberg_org.

QR Voice – Create Short Audio Supports Simply!

QR VoiceQRVoice is a tool that allows you to create QR codes that when scanned will play a short  audio message that’s very easy to use.  To create your own QR code you just need to go qrvoice.net, type in your message, then click on the mini-qr code icon next to the text field.  A weblink and QR Code will pop up.  Save or copy that QR image for use anywhere you want a student to be able to hear that audio.  Create codes for test/quiz directions, explanation of assignments, task directions, etc.  Any phone, iPad, or computer with a camera will be able to access the code with a QR reader, and hear the audio message.  Simple and Free!

Newsela – News Stories Accessible to All Reading Levels

NewsELA graphicNewsela is a website and Google Chrome app that publishes daily news articles at 5 reading levels, 3rd-12 grade.  Use the non-fiction content, focused on current events/news with your students, adjusting the text by Lexile Level.  Articles can be assigned to individual students, filtered by grade level or reading standard, and quizzes are provided related to some of the articles.

One additional tip for use of Newsela – copy and paste the content (at the targeted reading level) to a Google Doc, and share with students, or with “Anyone who has the link”,  as “Comment Only”.

  • Provide your own comments within the article, as reading prompts or questions.  Students can respond with comments on the same Doc, or in a separate Doc.

Students can initiate highlights and comments to prompt class conversation and deeper thinking.