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Best Practice from a Bookshare Mentor Teacher — Train Teachers and Students Together!

Photo of Lisa Gutheil, VI Teacher.
Lisa Gutheil, VI Teacher.

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.”

Photo of teachers learning together seated at a table.
Photo of teachers learning together seated at a table.

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

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