Audio 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.
My personal favorites:
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Google Docs has become an essential tool in our classrooms, utilized by educators and students for everything from instruction and collaboration through assignment completion and more. This makes it increasingly important to evaluate the accessibility of the documents being created and shared.
How can you ensure that your documents are accessible to everyone? And what features should we be teaching our students to incorporate? Here are the key areas to consider:
- Use of Headings and Lists or Bullets when formatting the page content
- Adding Alt Text to images, tables, charts or graphs
- Structuring hyperlinks
- Utilizing contrasting text and page background
How do you know if your document meets accessibility standards? Grackle Docs is a Google Docs Add On that will check your document for accessibility errors, and help you repair them. It’s a free and intuitive tool that will help you reach all users. Download it from the Chrome Web Store and give it a try!
The “Apps for Students with Autism Wheel”, created by Mark Coppin has been updated! This list was developed to provide apps based on common learning characteristics and traits that are typical for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is important to remember that all students learn differently and selecting apps should be based on the unique learning needs of the student. This list is only a sampling of apps available for each skill area. This is not, nor is it meant to be a definitive list. This list is intended to give you a starting place and a rationale for picking certain apps. Use the link above to download the interactive wheel.
Follow Mark on Twitter: @mcopp
Doorway Online – is a free, Interactive and accessible website, with several activities targeting beginning literacy, math, time, money, memory, matching and keyboarding. Activities utilize a standard keyboard and mouse, but are also single and dual switch-accessible. Several activities have audio support, as well as learning mode or testing mode. And it’s free! Great for use in your classroom, or to share with families!
Follow them on Twitter @DoorwayOnline
Magic 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.
Video supports for content areas such as Science can benefit many students at all grade levels. Videos can provide alternative content for struggling learners, increase interest and engagement, and provide supplemental content for learners benefiting from extended learning. Quality videos should be part of all well designed UDL lessons.
Tales From Outside the Classroom has provided a nice list of 9 YouTube channels that can be used in the classroom to support instruction, or linked to your classroom website to provide learning supports for students outside of the classroom. Check out the list and find videos that can connect your students to Science!
Thanks to Tesser88 and the Tales From Outside the Classroom Blog!
Google Slides – If you haven’t been using it, then you should be! It is a terrific tool for both Teacher Presentation, Student Creation and Instructional Materials. So much easier and more collaborative than PowerPoint! And, there are some great newer features you might not have used:
Q&A feature – If using for class lectures or instruction – activate this feature to allow students to ask questions, answer questions, vote on topics, make comments, etc. Simply go to the small ‘down arrow’ next to PRESENT in the upper right corner of the slide deck, and activate the Q&A feature. A short URL will automatically be created and added to the top of each slide. Student submissions can be displayed (or not), and they are saved in a history to be viewed later.
Read text out loud – If you are using the Read&Write for Google Chrome extension, you know that it reads the content of Google Docs (and websites) out loud. Did you know that it now reads the text on Google Slides? This is a great support for students using teacher-created presentations, or other slide presentations as instructional material, Google Slide ebooks, etc. Try it here with these Google Slide examples:
I Can Use My Words” (You must have the extension downloaded from the Chrome Web Store)
Because of Winn Dixie (story review student assignment)
Sharing and Collaboration: And of course – Google Slides are automatically ‘shareable’ due their location ‘in the cloud’. Just set the sharing settings so that others can view or comment. Post on your class website for 24 hour access to materials, and terrific student/family collaboration!
Special Ed Tech is a newsletter geared toward and developed in collaboration with special education teachers, although the tools and tips are useful to all K-12 teachers. It provides practical, leading edge tips and resources for using technology and free/low-cost games to provide professional development and help engage students. Although packed with good ideas, the newsletter can be read quickly. It can be read online or printed on a standard printer.
Subscribe for email updates and links, or head to the website to access all articles and content. Find resources supporting assistive technology and UDL across topics Eye Gaze AAC, QR Codes in the Classroom, MathTech, Tools to Support Writing, Using Tablets in Moderate/Severe Classrooms, UDL- Why It’s Important, and much, much more! You can even find information and links to professional development available on assistive technology and UDL topics.
Check it out and subscribe for new information all year!
Captioning, 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.