What classroom considerations should Mr. Keurig take into account in order to meet the needs of his students who use alternate text formats?
Page 8: Using Bookshare in the Classroom
Of course, simply allowing a student access to Bookshare’s services does not guarantee his or her success in the classroom. The initial implementation of any new practice, program, or service usually involves a steep learning curve for both the teacher and student. In order to maximize a student’s success with Bookshare in the classroom, careful teacher attention to often-overlooked details both prior to and during instruction is necessary.
Prior to Instruction
When they use Bookshare and supportive equipment, teachers can alleviate potential problems by being proactive. Indeed, there are a number of steps teachers can take to prepare for the effective use of Bookshare in the classroom.
Become familiar with each student’s needs:
- Review IEPs and other cumulative records.
- Talk with knowledgeable individuals (e.g., teachers, parents, students).
- Learn about each student’s equipment needs (e.g., software, hardware).
Locate and download materials:
- Find out in advance whether required educational materials are in Bookshare’s library. Though not all materials are currently on offer, many can be made available upon request. Requesting a book not currently in Bookshare’s library is a simple process of completing a Book Request form. Click here to view an example form from the Bookshare Website.
- Identify and match the ISBN number of digital and print versions of a desired book. Otherwise, the students may be using different versions of a book, which may affect pagination, chapter headings, etc.
- Allow enough time to download materials and to verify that the digital files are working properly. Download times may vary due to factors such as file size, available bandwidth, and Internet access.
Obtain supporting equipment:
- Have appropriate materials for storing or distributing files on CDs or USB devices. Students may need to access the files in different locations (e.g., library, home) or on different devices (e.g., classroom computer, Classmate Reader).
- Locate headphones for students to use. Using a synthesized voice feature without headphones can distract others.
Adjust the equipment settings or preferences:
- Be sure the audio option is enabled on computers for students who are using the synthesized voice feature. Often, computers in classrooms, libraries, or labs have the audio option disabled to cut down on noise and limit distractions.
- Be sure the settings on the computer or the text reader (e.g., font size, boldface, speed of braille refreshable text) match the needs of each student. Not having these pre-set can waste valuable classroom time.
Arrange the classroom environment:
- Create seating arrangements that support the use of hardware without excluding the student from the class. The proper use of most devices requires proximity to an electrical outlet or additional space. However, students should not be isolated—for example, in the back of the classroom—solely for the purpose of an outlet.
- Set aside space for equipment when not in use. Placing the equipment in a safe location protects it from damage.
For Your Information
Becoming familiar with the many types of materials available in Bookshare’s library (e.g., newspapers, magazines) will allow teachers to broaden their options when developing their lesson plans and instructional activities.
Although planning prior to class instruction can set the stage for the effective integration of Bookshare materials, there are a few additional actions that teachers can take during instruction to maximize the qualifying students’ success.
- Provide time for other students to learn about and become familiar with the equipment. It’s natural that they should be curious about the device and may be distracted by its use during instruction.
- Be sensitive to variations in time requirements for different instructional tasks. It may take a student more or less time to, for example, locate or read a text passage than might be the case with his or her peers.
- Use pre-determined signals to communicate with a student who is using headphones. The use of headphones may hinder a student’s ability to hear the teacher or other students.
- Assign a buddy for a student with mobility or fine/ gross motor challenges. The student with these challenges might have difficulty manipulating equipment (e.g., putting on and taking off headphones).
Click on each student below to see Mr. Keurig’s notes on how he can better prepare to use Bookshare materials for instructing Bonita and Steven.
For Your Information
Special educators and assistive technology or media specialist personnel often provide ongoing support for the effective implementation of Bookshare services. In general, the goal of ongoing support is to improve and maintain the skills necessary for correct implementation, to maintain motivation and commitment, and to address problems that may arise. Ongoing support is also available through the Bookshare Academy in the form of:
- Brochures and User guides
- Video Tutorials
- Professional development workshops (under Tools for Trainers)
- “Learn It Now” tutorials
The ongoing support offered through Bookshare Academy can help teachers who are just beginning to use Bookshare services and those who are less familiar with technology in general become more comfortable using digital text and supporting technologies.