Blogs About Reading
Aiming for Access
June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.
The "Almost Best" Collection of Apps, Extensions for Special Education from An AT Specialist
I raved about Karen Janowski's wiki UDLToolkit and the serious matter of achieving academic accessibility in classrooms when the AIM-VA blog started publishing in 2014. I turn to her recommendations today as 2015 gets rolling.
Janowski's work as a Massachusetts-based assisitive and educational technology consultant is focused on infusing the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into classrooms and enabling teachers to reduce or remove obstacles to learning. The goal: All students who struggle need to be able to demonstrate what they know.
Janowski is familiar with a range of technology tools. She has been eyeing the "recommended" apps and extensions for special education students. She has made some decisions about which of the "best" measure up.
"The web is filled with collections of recommended apps for special education. Some of the "Best of" lists are better than others," she notes. "Some are categorized using a system that is difficult to follow," she writes in her blog, "Ed Tech Solutions: Teaching Every Student." In fact, "some Top Ten Apps for Special Education include apps for the widest possible range of special needs, rendering the author's recommendation of the top ten apps meaningless."
"Instead, I've compiled helpful collections of resources for educators working with students with special needs. Here are recommendations I believe to be excellent compilations of apps and extensions" to use for them. Here are the choices with her descriptions:
When choosing apps and extensions, Janowski cautions that teachers start by asking about the tasks that students most struggle with or are unable to perform. She advocates using a student's strengths to structure learning tasks for success, engagement, independence and joyful learning. "It's not just about the tool, she writes, "but for many students, the tool makes things possible."
Teachers and related services personnel who have additions to her list of apps and extensions, she asks that they be added to her list in her comments section. Also find Janowski's contact information and other of her chosen resources, including popular posts on social media.
For students with print disabilities, AIM-VA provides free accessible educational materials and free teacher training so that students access their grade-level learning. Every state has a program similar to this. For students in the Commonwealth, log on to the AIM-VA homepage to get started. Outside Virginia, ask a special education teacher or school administrator about eligibility.
Thanks to Jamie Martin, AT specialist, for bringing this posting to my attention.
Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.