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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.

6 Resources from The NCTE 2014 Exhibit Hall Mostly Hidden Among Zillions of Books in Print

November 25, 2014

Teachers were buzzing about and checking out many wonderful books in the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Exhibit Hall on Nov. 22. Having so many wonderful books in print to examine was like a picnic for some who browsed and chatted happily at this 2014 annual conference.

A crowd lined up way in advance (like shoppers at Best Buy before a big sale) for the freebie books in print that vendors give away at when the hall closes.

Prospecting, whew!

My goal in this festive arena was to prospect for accessible instructional materials. Did I have my work cut out for me in this field of more than 800 booths? I did.

Honestly, accessible versions of books were hard to find. There were inaccessible or minimally accessible digital resources, though. So, while the mood was upbeat for most, my reality was this: my best days are ahead in the exhibit halls of conferences like ATIA in Orlando in January, at the Council for Exceptional Children in San Diego in April, and others.

Here are selected finds from NCTE 2014 that can inform instruction:

Teaching Tolerance

Social-emotional learning is made easier with resources that are free to educators from this project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Brand new is "Perspectives for a Diverse America: A K-12 Literacy-Based Anti-Bias Curriculum." This offers a carefully curated collection of texts about identity, diversity, justice, and action. Materials were created with RTI in mind and are organized with anchor standards, domains, desired outcomes, and scenarios by grade-levels. Also check out the Social Justice Film Kits and A Guide for Teachers: Speak Up at School.

New-Age Book Handling Skills

Here is an interesting book from publisher Harper Children's. Tap to Play provides interactivity. It is appropriate for early learners who progress through the text if they can handle books skillfully.

Handling Dyslexia

Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt for Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin) offers a great middle school novel to read all year long, but is appropriate to use or assign (an audio CD version is available) during Inclusive Schools Week, Dec. 1-5. 2014. Ally, who is dyslexic, has been fooling a lot of smart people. She hides her struggles to read by using distractions; and she never asks for help due to fears that no one can cure "being dumb." However, a teacher understands what underlies the clever disruption she causes. With his help Ally becomes less critical and more accepting that this diagnosis is not cause to impose limits on herself.

Free Book Account

It is true. "Epic! for Educators" offers thousands of award-winning children's books for elementary teachers and librarians. The offer is free with an education email, and there appears to be no end date or limit. The books work on the iPhones and iPads. Register here to create a user name and password.

Fee Macbeth

"The Folger Luminary Shakespeare reinvents tradition for the mobile age," says the iTunes store. Based on the Folger Shakespeare Library Edition of Macbeth, this app makes Shakespeare’s great tragedy accessible to all readers. Download it for free.

Other resources from #NCTE2014:

Poetry, SoundCloud, More

The Poem Farm External Link to The Poem Farm website offers poems and lessons since March 2010 by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, a children's author and writing teacher. She calls her site a safe place for children to explore poems and source for teaching ideas as well as insights about the creative writing process. She posts on some Mondays and each Friday during the school year. Next, log on to "Sharing Our Notebooks: Penny Kittle," a blog by "notebook keepers." Penny and Heinemann are offering copies of MY QUICK WRITES, Penny's book with Donald Graves, in a drawing for two commenters who post on the site by Monday, November 24.

AIM-VA makes accessible instructional materials available to students who have Individualized Education Programs and are found eligible due to a print disability. The materials are free and teachers are trained at no cost. To learn more, go to the AIM-VA home page. This free service is provided in all states. Contact your child's special education teacher or a school administrator for more information.


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

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"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx