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Empower Students in the Classroom with Reading Tools and Accessible Books!

2013 September 9

Image of a teacher and student in front of the computer with words "Back to School"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.

Jessica Chandler, Teacher at Middletown Schools, Ohio

Jessica Chandler, TVI/COMS,  Middletown Schools, Ohio.

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

    Screenshot of the Read:OutLoud Bookshare Edition reading tool. The photo features a science text surrounded by accessible navigation tools, such as a dictionary, note- taking outline, and bibliographer tool.

    Screenshot of the Read:OutLoud Bookshare Edition reading tool. The photo features a science text surrounded by accessible navigation tools, such as a dictionary, note- taking outline, and bibliographer tool.

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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Reading Lists to Get Organized for Back-to-School

2013 September 3

Image of a teacher and student in front of the computer with words "Back to School"

In our last blog post, we shared tips to help you find your school books. Today, we want to help you keep those books organized for back-to-school with a great new tool called Reading Lists.

What Are Reading Lists?

Reading Lists (formerly Bookshelves) are virtual lists that let school sponsors and student members save and organize titles that can be accessed anywhere with Internet.

How do Reading Lists help you?

Teachers can create a class Reading List, like fifth-grade American Literature, and save titles for the semester. Whenever a student needs a particular book, just go to your Reading List and it will be there waiting for you. No need to search or browse again!

  •  Students can create their own Reading Lists by subject, class, or interest and access them easily from multiple locations, including school, home, the library, or anywhere with Internet.
  •  Teachers can also create Reading Lists and share them with students who have individual memberships.  They can then access the lists on their own and download books independently, including NIMAC-sourced titles (if they qualify).

Here’s a Great Back-to-School Idea from Educator, Justin Kolbe. 

Justin Kolbe said, “Bookshare Reading Lists are super easy to set up!” Justin is making plans to get all of this year’s reading material organized in one place for students who qualify. This includes textbooks and novels. “This tool makes it easy for teachers to organize reading assignments for multiple students at once. It saves them a bunch of time!”

Like Mr. Kolbe, we encourage all Bookshare educators, students, and parents to try using the Reading Lists.  You can easily learn to do it with these two “Learn It Now” tutorials and links:

Remember to visit the Bookshare Support Center for additional Reading List information.  And check out the Bookshare YouTube channel for other great “Learn It Now” tutorials.

You’re on your way.  Good luck!

Back-to-School Books for Schools and Universities

2013 August 29

Photo of college students in cap and gown with banner that says "back to campus"

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.

  1. 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!
  2. If you’ve got your book, you’re all set and can save them to your Reading List for easier access later on.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

 

 

Parents, Is Your Child Ready for School?

2013 August 27
by Bookshare Team Member

Photo of a smiling women and boy in front of a computer with a caption, "Back to School."

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.

Robbi, Andrew and Ben Cooper

Photo of the Cooper Family, Robbi, Andrew and their son, Ben.

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!

  • 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.

Screen shot of Bookshare Individual Membership Status Page.

Screen shot of Bookshare Individual Membership Status Page.

 

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!

 

Educators, Are Your School Accounts Up-to-Date?

2013 August 22
by Bookshare Team Member

Image of a teacher and student in front of the computer with words "Back to School"

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.

Photo of Lisa Gutheil, VI Teacher.

Lisa Gutheil, VI Teacher.

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:

  1. Go to www.bookshare.org and log in.
  2. If you have new students who qualify, go to “Members” and add them to your roster.
  3. If you have the same students from the prior year, make sure to update their grade levels.
  4. If you want to empower other educators to download titles for members and manage the roster, you can add new sponsors.
  5. 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?”

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!

 

 

 

Get Ready for Back-to-School with Bookshare!

2013 August 14

Back-to-School

Back to School is a time for teachers, parents, and students of all ages to brush off the summer dust and get ready for a brand new school year.

How can you be sure that you are ready to make this year a success on day one?

By making sure you are prepared with the books, tools, and information that you or your students need before class begins. That way, you can spend more time focusing on teaching and learning and less time getting ready.

Bookshare can help! Throughout the fall, we’ll provide you with step-by-step information to set up your account, learn how to find and download books, use our free reading tools and apps, and more.

To make sure your Bookshare account is ready to go, select the link below created just for you and  you’ll be ready for the school year—and a lifetime of learning!

Watch for Tips, Resources, Best Practices, and Online Trainings too!

In addition to the back-to-school blogs, stay tuned to Bookshare newsletters, our Facebook page, Twitter, and Pinterest for useful implementation tips and best teaching practices.

We’re on all the places that you visit online to stay connected, so please join us…START NOW!

Good luck!

P.S. You can also follow hashtags: #Bookshare, #back2school, #spedchat, #specialneeds, #reading, #dyslexia, and #assistivetech. 

Announcing Winners of Bookshare’s Summer Reading Contest – Thanks to All Participants!

2013 August 6
by Bookshare Team Member

Once again, we had a blast hosting Bookshare’s fifth annual summer reading contest – an event we hope was not only fun for everyone, but also rewarding!  Congratulations to all who participated!

This summer, student members grabbed the opportunity to catch up on all the fun summer reading they could not do during their busy school year.  Some of the popular summer reading titles included:  The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dave Pilkey, Star Wars: the Clone Wars by Karen Traviss, The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan, and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman.  If you haven’t read these books, you might want to put them on your reading list!

So, without further adieu…drum roll please! Here are the 2013 contest winners!

Grand Prize

The grand prize tablet computer goes to Bookshare member, Caitlyn Laster.  She is in 7th grade and submitted this winning entry about the book, “Entwined” by Heather Dixon, a tale of magic and mystery.  Here is Caitlyn’s entry:

“I read a lot of books this summer, but there was one that stood out as my favorite above all the others. Entwined, by Heather Dixon, kept me turning the pages; I read the entire book in two days. I loved the way the book included both magic and mystery, which are two of my favorite things in a book. I also liked how the book was based off of the Grimm Fairy Tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  I read lots of Grimm Fairy Tales when I was little and still enjoy some of the stories today.  Also, as a hopeful future author myself, I enjoyed how smoothly the dialogue and description was written. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes magic and mystery, and I would love to see the sequel to Entwined, Enchanted, added to the Bookshare library.”

Semifinal prize winners who won a $50 gift card:

  • Grades K-5: Connor Kleist
  • Grades 6-8: Annika Arney
  • Grades 9-12: Kristen Steele
  • College, graduate and adult students: Sharon Briscoe

3rd place prize winners who won our Read2Go app:

  • Grades K-5: Kiera Gulifield
  • Grades 6-8: Mausam Mehta
  • Grades 9-12: Florentino Becerra
  • College, graduate and adult students: Julie Cabrera

Again, congratulations to all participants!

You are all winners in our book and we look forward to your participation in future Bookshare contests and events.  Thanks!

The Bookshare Team

Shhh…Don’t Wake the Royal Baby! Titles for Royal Fans.

2013 August 4
by Bookshare Team Member

A Royal Bibliography

On July 22, our world was abuzz for the arrival of Prince George, the first son of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Our team at the Bookshare headquarters was no exception. The excitement over the little prince’s arrival was clear in the chatter between cubicles and online volunteer discussions of our entire Booksharian Anglophile community.

One volunteer exclaimed, “Finally, my weeks and days and hours of being on the Royal Baby watch is over! It’s a boy!” This kicked off our Royal Baby thread chat line, and it wasn’t long before the discussion turned to potential baby names. Though no official bets were made, our astute volunteers made the correct call before the prince’s name had been announced. One volunteer typed on the chat line, “Congratulations all the way from California! My son is named George after his granddad and the king and of course George Gershwin.”

The Bookshare collection is rife with books on England’s Royal Family. If you haven’t gotten enough of the Royals this summer, you can continue the excitement with these fun and interesting titles:

Shhh! Don’t Wake the Royal Baby by Martha Mumford

https://www.bookshare.org/browse/book/684242

The Royal Family tries several tricks to get the Royal Baby to fall asleep, including parachuting with the queen and helicopter rides with daddy. This children’s book has image descriptions to surely delight Royal Family devotees of any age.

The Making of a Royal Romance: William, Kate, and Harry—A Look Behind the Palace Walls by Katie Nicholl

https://www.bookshare.org/browse/book/555301

Written by one of the UK’s leading Royal experts, this is the updated edition to William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls.

The People’s Princess: Cherished Memories of Diana, Princess of Wales, From Those Who Knew Her Best by Larry King

https://www.bookshare.org/browse/book/272315

A book dedicated to the memory of Princess Diana the woman, beyond the tabloid headlines.

Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World by Charles HRH, the Prince of Wales

https://www.bookshare.org/browse/book/361047

Heir apparent the Prince of Wales shares his views on the global environmental crisis.

Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith

https://www.bookshare.org/browse/book/569702

A biography of the current occupant of the British throne, whose reign is the second longest in the history of the British monarchy.

The Queen Mother: The Official Biography by William Shawcross

https://www.bookshare.org/browse/book/300283

This official biography of the beloved Queen Mum chronicles the life of Prince George’s great-great-grandmother.

William and Kate: And Baby George: Royal Baby Edition by Christopher Andersen

https://www.bookshare.org/browse/book/683228

This updated version of William and Kate: A Royal Love Story details the courtship of William and Kate and contains a new chapter on the birth of Prince George with color photos.

 

Photo Journal: U.S. Official Visits Benetech and High School/College Transition Program Using Bookshare

2013 July 29
by Bookshare Team Member

Michael Yudin, the Acting Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, visited our Benetech headquarters recently. He was on his way to observe a dual-enrollment transition program at Mission Middle College in Santa Clara.  This unique collaboration of Santa Clara Unified School District and Mission Middle College offers new opportunities for high school seniors who were not performing well academically to complete high school graduation courses and accumulate college credits.

Betsy Beaumon and Michael Yudin standing in a computer lab at Mission Middle College.

Betsy Beaumon and Michael Yudin standing in a computer lab at Mission Middle College.

At the technology demonstration, students, parents, and educators shared experiences with Mr. Yudin and Betsy Beaumon, our General Manager and VP.

Bookshare student members demonstrated their use of assistive technology and accessible eBooks. They talked about their challenges, achievements, and lifetime goals.   A bright future is now unfolding for these students—one that tells the story of  'engaged learners who are technology literate'.   They are motivated to learn with a personalized learning program and reading solutions that include the Bookshare online library.  Our staff was impressed by their knowledge and transformation.

Read more about the transition program and Secretary Yudin’s observations about his visit on his Department of Education blogEnjoy the photos!

 

A parent and son talk with Mr. Yudin (left).  At right, Betsy Beaumon and Caleb Richardson are seated at a table laughing.