Did you know that Bookshare has a very active program of over 360 Mentor Teachers and 30 Local Experts?
This dedicated group of volunteers gives their time to bring reading alive for students with print disabilities in their schools and districts. Mentor Teachers provide resources and training for other teachers, parents and students. For example, some Mentors facilitate group and one-on-one trainings with teachers, parents and students on anything related to Bookshare. Others have developed online training tools and video tutorials, conducted in-service professional development, and worked with school and district leadership to get Bookshare implemented. Many participate in a listserv sharing ideas and information.
One of the Mentors shared some of the excitement felt by students and teachers as a result of access to Bookshare and devices. Reading is coming alive in this district, thanks to this Mentor:
Because teachers are so swamped, as the AT coordinator, I have them tell me the books they need for their students. I prepare the files in the right format, upload them into their drive, put the books on the iPod shuffles, or burn CDs if needed. Since using the Bookshare, the teachers have stated that the students enjoy reading, are answering higher-level critical thinking questions, and are talking to peers about books they are reading.
Students have been so excited that they look forward to “Free Read Friday.” If you walked into the classroom, you would see them with headphones, the shuffles attached to a book, listening and reading along to the books they have chosen for independent reading. The most amazing part of this whole thing is that their parents have jumped on board. They have bought MP3 players or an iPad.
About every two weeks, I get an e-mail from the reading teacher saying students have books they want me to download. When I show up, there is usually a stack of anywhere from 10 to 15 personal devices and post-it notes of the books that they want downloaded, two to three books at a time. No one is forcing them to do this; they want the books.
Donna Schneider, Local Expert and AT Specialist, Brewster Schools, Brewster, NY
Mentors can be AT specialists, special education teachers, resource specialists, OTs, local education agency directors, librarians, media specialists, and school counselors. In thanks for their service, Mentors may receive recognition in their local papers, gifts cards for school supplies, mp3 players, and possibly an iPad.
If you would like to join the Mentor Teacher program, please do!
Some Mentors have stepped forward and have volunteered to be a Local Expert. These dedicated super stars are willing to consult with other schools and districts in their regions to bring reading alive for students with print disabilities. They may answer emails, answer questions by phone, or visit other schools.
To become a Local Expert, please join the Mentor Teacher program first and then indicate your interest.
If you think you’d like assistance from a Local Expert, at present Bookshare has Local Experts in the following regions:
Jefferson County, AL
San Jose, CA
Baton Rouge, LA
Bienville and Claiborne Parishes, LA
Worcester County, MD
Calhoun and Branch Counties, MI
Eaton County, MI
Lake Crystal, MN
Cambria County, PA
Coppell and Dallas, TX
Battle Ground and Camas, WA
For assistance from a Local Expert, please contact the Bookshare Program Manager through the Contact Us form on the Bookshare site. Select “Other” in “My question is about,” and enter Need Local Expert.
Funding for the Mentor Teacher program and its expansion comes from two awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Bookshare for Education and Leveraging Impact through Technology.