Lisa Gutheil, a teacher of the visually impaired and early intervention specialist, encourages teachers and students to participate in her Bookshare training sessions together. Why does her dual-training model work so well? “Because kids get the technology!” says Lisa.
Co-training may not surprise you, but what will is that Lisa trains younger students, as early as third grade, to use Bookshare and its technology tools.
“If you want to ensure lifelong learning then give students resources and tools as early as possible so they don’t fall behind,” she says. This busy Bookshare Mentor now calls New York her home after working in Massachusetts for many years. Lisa says, “Children at an early age adapt to technology quickly. “I’ve seen remarkable strides in fluency skills when they can see and hear words read aloud.”
This past year, Lisa hosted two full faculty trainings in the elementary schools she serves and held several additional workshops in special education classrooms with teachers and students. The impact? “We opened the learning process a little wider for students who qualify for accommodations. Kids feel more empowered when you include them up front. They recalled more information than a busy teacher with lots of demands.”
Early Learner Success
One little girl, a third grader with dyslexia, was two years behind grade level. Lisa assigned her a digital book with text-to-speech, and she was decoding words almost instantly. In a short time, Lisa saw one full year’s growth in this child’s reading skills. Lisa also encourages “integrated learning,” a technique that many Bookshare Mentor Teachers like to use. Integrated learning is an education theory to describe a movement toward integrated lessons to help students make sensory and learning connections across curricula.
Lisa’s Back-to-School Best Practices
#1 Try a combined Bookshare training with teachers AND students at your school or district.
#2 Include younger students in your trainings, as early as grade 3.
#3 Get your students’ books ready and add them to a reading list.
#4 Get students individual memberships so they can enjoy the freedom to use the library at school and at home.
Special thanks to Lisa for these great tips!
About the Bookshare Mentor Teacher Program
This program began in 2010 to support the nation’s top teachers and assistive technology specialists with training tools to engage educators, parents, and students in the effective use of Bookshare’s online accessible library and reading technologies. Over 500 educators and specialists have now joined the network and work in their local communities and schools to advocate on behalf of students with print disabilities. Bookshare Mentor Teachers also develop and share best practices with other teachers across the United States.
Learn more at http://communications.bookshare.org/mentor-teachers/
Earlier in 2013, we launched the Bookshare Web Reader, a reading tool that lets individual Bookshare members read directly from their Internet browser without installing any reading software. Bookshare Web Reader makes it easy for our individual members to open and read books fast and easily—all you need is a computer with an Internet connection.
Students simply go to the Bookshare website on a compatible Internet browser, such as Google Chrome, find a title to read, select “Read Now,” and the book opens! Watch this video to see exactly how Bookshare Web Reader can open a book directly from an Internet browser and let you start reading right away!
Kevin Leong, a California sixth grader, started using the Bookshare Web Reader in his school library and classrooms. Kevin likes that he doesn’t have to download any software and can just open a Bookshare book directly in a web browser. “It’s simple to do,” says Kevin. “I’ve always been good at math and science, but now I’m good at reading and using technology. A couple of minutes on Bookshare and I’m ready to go!” This simplicity makes Bookshare Web Reader an ideal back-to-school tool for teachers and parents alike.
Here are three tips to get started with Bookshare Web Reader:
- Make sure your students have an individual membership. Bookshare Web Reader can only be used by members with their own individual accounts, not with organization memberships through their school.
- Read our Bookshare Web Reader First Time User Guide.
- If you want to use your computer’s built-in voices to read words aloud, make sure to use Google Chrome, or try another compatible browser.
Try Bookshare Web Reader today and help your students experience the “read now” wow factor! They’ll appreciate knowing about this quick and easy way to read Bookshare books directly on the web!
We’re sure you’ll agree that Jennifer Cassese Appleton, a reading specialist at Virginia’s Alternative Paths Training School, has mastered the art of blended learning. She is also the parent of four children, including a son with dyslexia.
Jennifer wants all students to have an engaging reading experience, no matter their learning or print disability. How does she engage her students to read with curiosity and anticipation? For many books that her students read, they also do a companion learning project involving art, music, or cooking.
“When you pair good literature with a sensory learning experience, you create positive memories in the reader,” says this busy teacher. “This improves their comprehension skills and fosters a love of reading!”
Many of Jennifer’s ideas are formed in collaboration with other teachers. She also works in small groups and uses digital accessible books that her students are required to read. “Bookshare has lots of academic titles, plus periodicals to keep my students interested in current events,” she said.
We caught up with Jennifer on our Facebook page, where we encourage teachers to share their best reading practices. To spur your imagination as you plan out your fall teaching schedule, check out some of Jennifer’s students’ favorite reading projects with sensory and mult-modal experiences:
Students read the book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg. The story is about two kids who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York. They are inspired by an Egyptian bronze cat. Jennifer’s students read the book, then sculpted cats out of clay. Jennifer baked the sculptures, and the students hand-painted them gold, watched them dry, spray-painted them brown, and wiped off the excess color. Then they added a watered-down green to make the sculptures look oxidized. Ninth and tenth graders loved the project!
Recycling Project—Making a Paper Bowl
Fourth and fifth graders read the graphic novel The Adventures of OOK and Gluk by Dave Pilkey. In this book, the characters destroy the environment. Jennifer had her students embrace a recycling project where they shredded magazines and made paper bowls. “Each student clearly understood the importance of being a good earth steward,” says Jennifer. “We proudly displayed the bowls in school classrooms.”
Cooking Burgoo Stew
Jennifer’s sixth graders read A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck. It is about a child and grandmother who lived during the depression era and made Burgoo stew, a meal comprised of any meat or vegetable that was available.
“My students used adaptive knives to cut their own vegetables. They made the broth and stirred the stew in a Crock-Pot in class. We made it just like Amy did with her grandma in the book. The stew was part of a culminating activity, and the students ate it with gusto.”
How does Jennifer know that her sensory reading projects help students recall more story details?
“Two years ago, some students read The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden—a favorite book among early learners,” she tells us. “The cricket eats liverwurst, so we ate it on crackers—quite a sensory experience for my students. Just this week, they told me they remembered the book but didn’t like the liverwurst,” she ends with a smile.
With the Labor Day holiday behind us, there’s no doubt that you are in the full swing of back-to-school. Last month, we helped you get your Bookshare accounts up-to-date. Did you find the time to complete the easy steps? If not, check out our August Back-to-School post.
This month, our aim is to help you prepare students to get the most out of Bookshare for learning in the classroom. Educators always tell us that their students with print disabilities feel a true sense of empowerment when they can read independently and take part in classroom discussions.
Jessica Chandler, a teacher of the visually impaired and certified orientation and mobility specialist in Middletown City Schools, Ohio, says, “I believe students can become more independent learners early in life if we empower them to use digital accessible books and reading technologies as early as possible.”
How Can You Empower Your Students?
Make sure they have a reading tool that they feel comfortable with and that provides the accessibility features they need. Many reading tools allow students to do the following:
- Hear words read aloud with high-quality human-sounding voices
- Read multi-modally (see and hear words read aloud as the text is highlighted)
- Read with refreshable braille
- Take notes and use study tools
Did you know that Bookshare offers a number of great reading tools that are FREE for student members?
Yes! You can install these tools on school computers for use by qualified Bookshare members, and students or their parents can install them on home or personal computers to extend learning after the school bell rings. Install a free reading tool today!
In addition to Bookshare’s free reading tools, there are many other great products that can help your students. Visit our Reading Tools section to learn about other Bookshare-compatible reading tools that work on tablets, phones, or other devices.
These tools can empower your students today for a lifetime of digital learning and reading. Go for it and good luck!
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Throughout August, we’re encouraging students to get ready for the new school year. You can start this now and get on the right foot by reading this blog and following the steps below. In our last blog post, you read how to make sure your school or home accounts are up-to-date. Today, let’s make sure you’ve got your books!
Get the books you need!
Start by getting your required book list from your school or DSS office, then follow these steps to success:
Go to www.bookshare.org and log in.
- Use the search feature located at the top of every page to look for books by title, author, or ISBN. You can also visit the Support Center for advanced search tips!
- If you’ve got your book, you’re all set and can save them to your Reading List for easier access later on.
- Can’t find the book you need? Visit our Support Center for tips on finding similar versions of the book you need and how to request that Bookshare add titles to the collection.
- You can also check out our nifty “Learn It Now” tutorial. It will show you a step-by-step demonstration on searching and browsing for books!
Did you know that Bookshare has a number of useful tutorials?
Visit the Bookshare YouTube channel and subscribe today!
This month we’re encouraging educators and parents to get ready for the new school year. If you missed our first blog, Back-to-School with Bookshare, please take a look now and share it.
In this blog, we want to address parents. Starting the school year off right can set the tone for the entire year—especially when it comes to reading for children with print disabilities. Many Bookshare parents, like you, have told us about the challenges of preparing early and getting resources and support that their child needs at the beginning of the school year.
Texas parents, Robbi and Andrew Cooper like to prepare early. Their son Ben, a seventh grader, has struggled with reading since he was diagnosed with dyslexia in first grade.
Robbi says that talking with teachers, AT specialists, librarians, principals, and the people in charge of curriculum can make all the difference! “We make plans and talk with teachers prior to the start of each school year and it works,” said Robbi.
“Ben’s teachers have a better understanding of his reading challenges, and we set a plan in motion for the accommodations and support he needs to be successful. Turns out accessible books and technologies are the winning combination for my son! Bookshare has enhanced his love of literature while he continues to build a strong vocabulary.”
Robbi encourages other parents to tell school administrators that an organizational membership to Bookshare is free, and that children who qualify should have both individual and organizational memberships so they can get their schoolbooks, including textbooks, on time, as well as fun books they can read on their own.
What can you do to make sure your child is ready?
Start by making sure your child’s individual Bookshare membership is up-to-date!
- Go to www.bookshare.org and help your child log in.
- Your new personalized homepage will display your child’s account status.
- If it is incomplete, follow the steps to make sure your child can access Bookshare books and reading tools.
This is a what your personalized home page will look like.
Don’t have an individual membership yet?
Visit our Back-to-School Resource page for parents for detailed information.
It’s never too late to sign your child up. Do it today!
In our last blog, we officially launched the Back-to-School season and now want to continue our series with a spotlight on educators. Yes, we all know that once school starts and students enter the classroom, it’s a nonstop race to the holiday break, followed by two sprints to spring and summer. So our time and good intentions can often get the best of us.
Lisa Gutheil, a teacher of the visually impaired and early intervention specialist in New York, knows about this situation. That’s why she is already talking with teachers to make sure students who qualify for Bookshare have their required reading lists and can keep the pace.
“There’s no excuse for a student to wait for materials or a teacher to spend excessive time looking for books,” says Lisa. “Come September, I have students’ books assigned and ready to download. No more scrambling for me, and I feel good that my students can keep better pace with their reading assignments!”
What can you do to make sure your classroom is ready?
Start by making sure your Bookshare account at school is up-to-date by following these steps:
- Go to www.bookshare.org and log in.
- If you have new students who qualify, go to “Members” and add them to your roster.
- If you have the same students from the prior year, make sure to update their grade levels.
- If you want to empower other educators to download titles for members and manage the roster, you can add new sponsors.
- Attend these FREE “Back-to-School” with Bookshare” Webinar for more details and advanced tips:
- Tuesday, Aug. 27—4:00 pm ET, 3:00 pm CT, 2:00 pm MT, 1:00 pm PT (30 minutes)
- Tuesday, Sep. 10—1:30 pm ET, 12:30 pm CT, 11:30 am MT, 10:30 am PT (30 minutes)
Plus…sign up for these tutorials!
“What’s New at Bookshare?”
- Thursday, Sep. 5—1:30 pm ET, 12:30 pm CT, 11:30 am MT, 10:30 am PT (30 minutes)
- Wednesday, Sep. 18—4:00 pm ET, 3:00 pm CT, 2:00 pm MT, 1:00 pm PT (30 minutes)
Follow the five quick steps above and your school account will be ready to go!
And, for additional tips, visit the Back-to-School Resource page for educators!