Technology is growing at an exponential rate and an overwhelming number of tools are available to support students who struggle with reading and writing tasks. Here are a just a few inexpensive or free options that can help school students achieve greater success and better prepare them for college or university:
By the time struggling readers reach high school, many have shut down or given up completely. For years, reading classroom material has been difficult, if not impossible, and they’ve rarely if ever experienced the pure joy of getting lost in a captivating story, or the excitement of learning something amazing from a non-fiction passage. Instead, they’ve spent most of their school days sitting in desks filled with textbooks they cannot read.
When students don’t read, over time we begin to see a decline in both their language and comprehension. They suffer from not having experience with the vocabulary, concepts and ideas expressed in text. Their spelling and writing skills are impacted and their overall achievement is often limited.
Fortunately, technology is revolutionizing the lives of struggling readers and opening the doors to a literary world far beyond their reading abilities. A variety of digital options exist, but audiobooks provide a simple, effective way to motivate and re-engage struggling readers of all ages. Audiobooks have been around for quite some time, but until recently, they have been expensive and not always readily available. Now, most students have their own mobile device and books are easily accessible through a variety of sources . . .
Are you looking for ways to support and engage your students? Here's an example of how we recently integrated some simple, but effective digital tools to engage, educate and empower our students.
A Bit of Background . . .
This fall we provided literacy support to eighteen high school boys with severe learning disabilities. We reviewed their files, met with staff and and completed the required standardized testing to gain a basic understanding of their literacy skills and needs. They were bright and creative, but despite working with skilled and caring teachers, most had experienced a great deal of academic failure. Many struggled with basic everyday reading tasks and their spelling scores explained their reluctance to write - only two scored above the 17th percentile on a standardized spelling test.
Our goal was not only to address deficits in critical literacy skills; but also to provide tools and strategies that remove obstacles to learning and empower students with alternate ways to access information and communicate ideas. To personalize their learning and achieve greater success, we wanted to learn more about their background, previous experiences, values, attitudes, talents, interests, strengths and needs. Rather than quizzing, testing, interviewing or assigning an 'All About Me' essay, we chose a multimedia format and integrated some of our favorite digital tools - Animoto, YouTube, BrainPop and Wordle. . .