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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.

"Power Up's" 2015 Resolutions, Resources: Try Top Tech Solutions for Improving Teaching & Learning

February 2, 2015

Hopefully, all educators have New Year's resolutions in place to improve professional practice. "POWER Up What Works," an activity of the federal education department, is lending a hand by publishing five proposals by Judy Zorfass related to improving teaching and learning by using educational technology.

Zorfass oversees the development and design of the "PowerUp What Works" website, including the content and guidelines for ways to successfully implement technology into classrooms. She is co-Principal Investigator for the Center for Technology Implementation (CTI), which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

Here are her proposed resolutions and suggestions in her own words:

  1. I will integrate technology tools into best teaching practices.

    Help is on the way. Check out the 20 PowerUp What Works Instructional Strategy Guides. Twelve focus on English Language Arts (ELA) and eight on Mathematics. Each aligns evidence-based practices with technology tools.

  2. I will engage in self-study to deepen my professional knowledge.

    This resolution is even easier done than said. Use the six PowerUp What Works Teacher Playlists. Each guides you to follow a pathway through PowerUp resources (including videos and slide shows).

  3. I will keep abreast of current trends in technology.

    Look no further than the Tech Matters Blog. Each new post draws on current trends and good teaching ideas to keep you up to date and well-informed.

  4. I will expand my knowledge of technology tools.

    There are no good excuses for not following through on this resolution. PowerUp offers three ways to get started TODAY!: 1) the TechMatrix; 2) Tech Tips; 3) Tech Research Briefs.

  5. I will write better tech-enhanced lesson plans to differentiate instruction.

    Need a boost to really make this happen? Each Instructional Strategy Guide includes a Lesson in Action—a case study of teaching and learning. At the top of the left-hand column are the teacher’s step-by-step instructional strategies. Modify, revise, and/or edit these to meet you students’ needs.

The Power Up Spotlight, a newsletter, in which the resolutions appeared, also features three playlists this month that develop math skills and thinking:

  • Peer Interaction

    Peers helping peers is a strategy known to aid understanding of mathematical concepts. Check out Interacting With Peers. This instructional strategy guide aids educators interested in infusing Universal Design for Learning into their instruction.

  • Verbalize Thinking

    When students verbalize what they know, they learn to reflect upon and clarify a math problem in order to come up with strategies to solve it. Ideas in this Thinking Aloud playlist encourage students to organize and verbalize their reasoning or solutions.

  • Professional Development: Math

    Skill in math depends on how math vocabulary and language is used and shown. Find stand-alone ideas or customize the Math Language PD playlist. Ideas here focus on technology-enhanced strategies to help students to use language effectively as a means to solve math challenges.


For students who struggle in school due to a print disability, technology-based solutions play a big role. One big step involves changing out traditional textbooks and trade books with accessible digital versions. Math has been a challenge in the past, but times are changing. AIM-VA helps individual students at no charge by supplying them with educational materials after they are found eligible for services. Sources for the materials are AIM-VA, which has converted traditional books in print, or its partners, including Learning Ally, Bookshare, the Commonwealth's Department of Blind and Visually Impaired, and Don Johnston, Inc.

Under federal special education and copyright laws, all states provide accessible instructional materials. To get started, log on to the AIM-VA homepage, or in other states ask a special education teacher or school administrator about eligibility criteria.

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

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"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." — Mark Twain