Impressions from a School Visit
It’s a busy time for Leslie Anido, special education teacher in San Jose, CA. She teaches fifth graders with physical disabilities preparing to transition to middle school. “It is very difficult for students with physical disabilities to access traditional print,” said Ms. Anido, when I was there recently for a training with her class about Bookshare and digital books. At the time of my visit, Ms. Anido invited a former student back to her classroom. She was preparing for college which made Ms. Anido very proud.
In the training, we discussed how to search for books and use various assistive technology programs on the computer and on popular portable devices such as MP3 players and iPads. We practiced downloading books and reading them with the free software application, Read:OutLoud Bookshare Edition that reads digital text aloud. This text-to-speech e-reading software includes homework study tools, such as highlighters, a dictionary and bibliographer.
The students asked good questions about how to request the specific digital books they need for school and how to read them on their devices.
“It is my job to open doors for my students to learn about educational resources available,” said Ms. Anido, “but just as importantly I want to empower them to take charge of their learning.”
When I left her classroom, I felt that her students were now equipped to experiment with new technologies and to read digital books. They were on a good path to becoming Bookshare users and independent learners. I was impressed by their level of maturity and interests. From my experience working with students and teachers for the past ten years, Ms. Anido’s classroom clearly represented “excellence in teaching.” She created an environment where students of all levels can explore different technologies, strategies and possibilities on a path to successful learning and transition.
If this is your goal, here are simple steps that you can take to empower your students for life-long learning and independence:
- Make sure all your students have individual memberships for use at home. Watch this ‘how to’ guide for tips.
- Schedule an online training with a Bookshare staff member. We are happy to conduct a webinar or Skype session with students.
- Ask students what books they need and then request them. If we do not have them in the library, we’ll get them.
- Experiment with the assistive technology tools available. Contact your state AT network to find a local office where you can borrow technology for students to try. This list will give you some places to start.
- Train your colleagues. Bookshare has a fabulous Mentor Teacher Program. Join – its free – and receive training materials you can use with other teachers. The Mentor Teachers last year really enjoyed their role, helping other teachers learn and getting more books to students.
- Contact your district training coordinator. Share information about our Professional Development Workshops. For a nominal fee, Bookshare can come to your school and facilitate a hands-on training for up to 25 teachers. Request information about workshops.
Join Ms. Leslie Anido and discover how Bookshare can be a useful digital book resource tool for your students who qualify. Let us know how we can help you and let’s start this school year with a renewed passion for empowering your students to become independent, life-long learners. Thanks!