Blogs About Reading

Aiming for Access

June Behrmann

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.

Zaption, a 2015 SXSW Prize Winner, Could Help Teachers Who Differentiate, Modify Learning

March 30, 2015

The SXSWedu Conference & Festival announced on March 12 that Zaption is the winner of the fourth annual LAUNCHedu startup competition. This instructional tool that aids project-based learning seems to have an equally valuable place for classrooms where differentiation or curriculum modification happens regularly. The problem with differentiating and modifying the curriculum is how long it takes for teachers to make learning materials usable for a wide variety of learning needs.

For the Toolbox?

Video-based learning works for many struggling students, including those with disabilities requiring visual supports like captions or audio description. Text-leveling is another great support for a teacher/student toolbox. Examples are Snap&Read from Don Johnston, Inc. or Newsela, a nonfiction literacy and critical thinking service. These products scale text to a variety of reading levels from below-grade to advanced (Newsela) as needed. In fact, yesterday, Newsela announced that the Washington Post stories are available as part of its service.

Zaption takes learning with video (from YouTube, Vimeo or a teacher's clip) to a new level by allowing instructors to add interactive content and various tools that engage learners. The basic app is free. With a paid version there are analytics that track progress and give immediate feedback on how learners interact with the content and understand it. As a tool for teachers to differentiate instruction, this could help students working for deeper understanding using a teacher's choice of added images, text, talking points, quizzes and questions.

The LAUNCHedu startup competition was backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for new products and services. There were ten finalists from around the world that were chosen by the LAUNCHedu Advisory Board. Ideas reached from K-12 to higher education. After the competition lightning stage, Ideas Box, Pear Deck and Zaption were selected to compete in the showdown round.

Teacher Materials Now

Check out some of the Zaption files on hand in the Zaption Gallery:


Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.

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"Writing is thinking on paper. " — William Zinsser