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Struggling readers

Savvy "Parent" Websites Paint Pictures of Disability Supports, Solutions That Educators Can Love!

Two "Don't Miss" websites that target parents of students with disabilities, do double duty and serve information needs for teachers, administrators, and related services personnel, too.

Both of the resources that follow are brimming with news, essential information, and hand-picked experts. Thankfully, they take on —rather than leave to someone else — the most serious concerns about improving the learning and social lives of student with disabilities.

14+ Accessible Holiday Book, Film Favorites Are Full of Fun For All to Enjoy

Bookshare, an AIM-VA partner in providing accessible books to students with print disabilities, recommends titles filled with humor as 2014 draws to a close. The following staff choices have witty and quirky holiday themes. Put serious books aside for a bit, Bookshare says. Make some time for smiles and joy.

Mac's Voice, Dictation Upgrades Are Springboards for Students Who Struggle With Books in Print

A flurry of built-in accessibility features involving voice and dictation from Apple are the latest operating system upgrades that benefit students who are frustrated and turned off when their textbooks and trade books come only in print.

New Tools

The additions mean students who learn differently have choices in the supports they use during a digital learning opportunity. No user is likely to turn on all the features at one time. However, having a menu of choices can personalize each learning situation.

16 Apps, Websites for Including Students with Disabilities in STEM Education

Teachers as "learning engineers" was a theme of a 2014 webinar focused on how to structure successful learning for students with disabilities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education using technology and apps.

What Is the Proper Sequence to Teach Reading Skills?

Years ago, when the National Reading Panel (NRP) report came out, Congress tried to impose a national literacy sequence on American schools. Their plan only allowed phonemic awareness instruction until kids could fully segment words. Then the law would let us teach phonics… but no fluency until the word sounding was completed. Eventually we’d even get to comprehension — at least for the most stalwart boys and girls who hung in there long enough.

A very ambitious plan; one that suggests a clear developmental sequence in how reading abilities unfold.

Prior Knowledge: Part 2

Last week, I focused on a controversy over prior knowledge. Common core has discouraged enhancing reading comprehension through the introduction of information external to a text.

That challenges the most popular ways of introducing texts in schools — such as telling students information about the text topic or exploring student knowledge relevant to the topic. CCSS proponents bridle at such practices. They want students to become independent readers, which means they’d be able to read texts effectively without extra information — information not provided by the author.

Six words can say so much

As LD Awareness month winds down, I want to share a few words (literally!) with you. They come from the 6 Word Parent Story contest that the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) ran earlier this month.

Creating avenues: helping below-level learners with the Common Core

We know them. We LOVE them. Our kiddos who fall just below that bar — the bar that the Common Core is challenging us to raise, day after day. I wholeheartedly believe that the Common Core is creating a climate of collaborative, critical thinkers that are raising the bar for THEMSELVES. But we still have our Tier II and Tier III punkins who need an extra boost.

The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia documentary

There's a new educational documentary that I can't wait to see, and I hope you'll try to see it as well. It's called The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia, and is directed by James Redford. Redford shares the story of his son Dylan who, by the age of ten was "barely able to read and write. To say that school was difficult for him is beyond understatement." The film shares the Redford's story, as well as three other families, and insights from successful leaders in law, politics, and business, like Charles Schwab and Richard Branson, as well as from experts like Drs.

Learning more about learning disabilities

All of us who have worked with young children have worked with kids who struggle. Many of us have worked directly with kids with learning disabilities (LD). PBS NewsHour is putting together a terrific series about kids with LD as part of the American Graduate project. I encourage you to read, watch and share! Among the resources:

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"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald