The software packages that we looked at today were both excellent examples of assistive technology. In my district we have access to Inspiration and software that is similar in function to Kurzweil, Read and Write Gold. Using Inspiration as an example, many assistive software is good for all students and not just a specialized population. The planning and organization tools in Inspiration provide an excellent backbone for all writing or research projects. All kids can benefit from the visual nature of this software. That being said, implementation of assistive technology becomes easier when we can integrate it into our curriculum, instead of seeing it as an add-on. The only struggle in this case is getting to the point in your instructional planning that you not only plan for content but also the mode in which it is delivered. I think this is crucial. With students who learn in so many different ways, providing multiple instructional modes engages students in the learning style that suites them. By using these software packages that are geared toward the visual and provide tools for information organization, we reach a whole group of learners who appreciate the visual. So in short, one way I plan to implement assistive technologies is to use the software that we have more strategically, reaching different types of learners within the scope of a unit.
Secondly (and this is short, I promise), I have texts that are difficult for many students. Those who especially struggle are English Language Learners and those with a learning disability in reading. In the past, I have used GarageBand to record myself reading the text, as a podcast. Students can then listen to the text and follow along in the book for visual reinforcement. I would like to experiment with the software Read and Write Gold. This will allow me to scan in texts and worksheets, providing my students with support through oral reading. My only concern here is that the computerized voice seems unnatural and may be a distraction to students. Just a thought...
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