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Top 10 Bookshare Tips for Back-to-School

Many educators working with students with print disabilities seek new ideas to motivate their students to read more. Giving students individual memberships, according to multiple anecdotal reports, does encourage independent reading, change students’ view of their ability to learn, and improve self-esteem, among many other benefits. From teachers around the country, we’ve gathered a list of ten top tips that have worked to get students to start reading more. Perhaps you’ll want to try some of these!

  1. Before Back-to-School night, print individual membership forms for all your students. Then at Back-to-School night, get parents to sign them. Gather the forms and FAX them back, rather than expecting the parents to FAX them.
  2. Send home the “Send Home Membership Letter” to parents before Back-to-School night, adding that you’ll be demonstrating this service that evening and encouraging them to come. You can download and print the letter from the Training page on the Bookshare website, under Quick Guides, and Membership.
  3. Demonstrate Bookshare at Back-to-School night.
  4. Play the short video, “What Am I?” at Back-to-School night or a parent meeting to introduce the idea of digital books.
  5. Hold an evening parent meeting and train parents on how to use Bookshare. Invite the parents to bring their kids so everybody is trained together. Be sure you have forms ready to sign, if parents haven’t already signed them.
  6. Distribute instructions on how to use Bookshare at home. One teacher created her own instructions. You can print Learning Guides that are posted on the Training page on the Bookshare website for this purpose.
  7. Encourage reading at home. Burn MP3 files onto CDs for students to take home and listen to on their computers at home. You can now download books in the MP3 format directly from Bookshare.
  8. Send home a hard copy of a book with the CD for a student to follow along the printed page while listening.
  9. Hold a “Free Read Friday.” The teacher who suggested this idea reported that students have headphones on, iPod shuffles attached to a book, and that they are listening and reading along to the books they have chosen for independent reading.
  10. Assign a pleasure book as well as a textbook. Expose the students to books their peers are reading or are grade appropriate. Give students books in MP3 formats on an iPod Shuffle or MP3 players. The teacher who suggested this idea said that “the students learned they do enjoy reading.  They are answering higher-level critical thinking questions and they finally are talking to peers about books. These conversations were not happening before.”

Perhaps one of these tips will open new doors for your students.

With schools starting back around the country, the Bookshare team hopes that you and your students will have a stimulating academic year. As always, the team is available to help you with whatever you need to help your students learn to love reading! Keep in touch and let us know how it goes.

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