June 06, 2016
Tech Tools for the Inclusive Classroom
I am so excited to share today's guest blogger with you all. Renée Jordan is an amazing NYC-based educator with a masters degree from Columbia University. She currently blogs over at The Jordan Project, and creates curriculum on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Hi all! I am excited to be connecting with all the Poet Prints readers. My name is Renée Jordan. I am a Learning Specialist in New York City. I have my own little corner of the web over at the Jordan Project. As a Learning Specialist I work with diverse learners, and partner with their teachers to help them figure out how to integrate all learners into their classrooms. Luckily with the advent of technology the differentiation process has become a lot easier. Today I will share a few of my favorite literacy tools for making classrooms accessible to types of learners – regardless of their abilities.
The cool thing about so many Ed tech tools is that they will give your diverse learners access to the curriculum, but they are also a whole lot of fun for your more traditional students. So today’s literacy tools aren’t just focused on special education kids, they are tools for true universal design for learning that every student can use, and enjoy.
All students need to learn the skills involved in writing planning, and as you teachers know it often takes some coaxing to get students to dig into the brainstorming process. This is where Inspiration software can come in handy. It is a digital graphic organizing program where students can plan their ideas in a visual format, then click a button and have it converted to a sequential outline. For students who struggle with reading and writing, Inspiration has a text-to-speech feature, as well as an integrated word bank tool to help students find words they may struggle to recall or spell. One feature that will help all students and aid overall classroom management is that teachers can record instructions in the program allowing each student to absorb each step of the process at their own pace.
Cultivating a love of reading is one of our main jobs as teachers. For students who struggle with reading it can be really difficult to enjoy the reading process or the time spent in class pouring over books. This is where digital books can really help boost engagement. Digital Libraries, like TumbleBooks, have a plethora of interactive books students can select. Students can choose from a variety of reading materials including, picturebooks, graphic novels, non-fiction books, early readers, novels, and magazines. There is even a language learning section for students learning French or Spanish. TumbleBooks are great for all students; Students reading at grade level love reading in a new format, and struggling readers are able to read the same books as their friends due to the highlighted text-to-speech component of TumbleBooks. Often students, even those with learning differences, are able to understand language at a much higher level than they can decode on their own. So having the audio component will allow students to read along with higher level books and glean new knowledge regardless of their reading abilities. If you’re a mum looking to get their kids into digital and audiobooks, several public libraries have TumbleBook accounts so be sure to check out your local library.
The last resource I want to share is a tool for visual story telling –a great way to differentiate the writing process. Storybird is a free, collaborative writing website that uses beautiful, artist rendered image to inspire students to write picture books, long form stories, or poetry. Storybird also syncs with Dragon Dictation, a voice recognition app that converts speech to text, to help students who struggle with writing or typing to orally dictate their tales. Students can then share their published stories with peers, or family members, as well as read the stories other students have created. With the teacher account, teachers are able to review student work that is in progress, comment on their stories, and assess completed work. The finished versions can be embedded into a blog, classroom website, or downloaded as a PDF.