This post is part of our Fast ForWord blog but I thought it appropriate to place it here too for those folks who are a part of our Kurzweil Learning Sessions.
So why Kurzweil? While students are working on increasing their reading level (closing the gap), the need for practice with reading comprehension continues. This part of literacy is challenging as you need to have the student work within their ‘just right text’ zone. Otherwise, the student ends up expending critical brain energy on decoding and never getting to the comprehension piece. Rather than just using texts at their reading level, which in many ways affects self esteem, why not access the power of technology and open the doors to a wider selection of reading choices? The students can read novels with their peers and work on those comprehension strategies as presented to the whole class. Here is where the classroom bridge happens. (* Stay tuned for more on specific strategies in later posts. We’d love you to comment on any strategies or stories that you’ve experienced successful integration. Click on the Leave a Comment hyperlink at the bottom to open a text box.)
For those who recently purchased Kurzweil (or already have it) and going through training, I’m attaching a doc with instructions of how the network folders and permission rights (CLICK HERE) can be set up so you get maximum flexibility in managing the textbook or novel files. Further, it allows the opportunity to build lateral capacity with your colleagues as they can offer their classroom worksheets and assignments. Please speak to the Tech Liaison at your school to create the folder structure with you.
Developing Your E-Content (textbooks, novels, worksheets, assignments…) is the most time-consuming part of the process. This depends on how much content you have that is in digital format. One way to do this is to access the resources from ARC-BC. All LSS teachers can get access by going through the district LSS training. (*Please contact your district LSS teacher for details on April’s training date.) ARC-BC continues to develop their learning objects and are willing to convert your textbooks (as long as you send them a copy of it). Already, the elementary texts of Science and Social Studies and Language Arts-Connections are in .kes format. The elementary Math Makes Sense is in pdf. As well, there are many popular novels which the students can read (eg. Lightning Thief – part of this year’s Battle of the Books list, Artemis Fowl, Bridge to Terabithia, Charlie Bone, Chasing Vermeer, Holes, Hoot). Many novels at Secondary are in the collection and provide a great opportunity for differentiation. Incorporating e-novels into your literature circle (or language arts) conversations is a powerful way to have students practice the same comprehension strategies that you use in the classroom. By using Kurzweil, students who are at emergent/novice levels of decoding have a chance to work with critical thinking skills with texts at their grade level. What a self esteem booster!
Another way to convert files (and quicker than the scanner) is to use your photocopier (set up for email-PDF). If you haven’t had your copier set up yet, please talk to one of our Learning Technologies team and we will be happy to walk you through the process. And finally, there is the scanner, which provides the greatest of flexibility (on Kurzweil toolbar) in converting text to electronic. As I said in the learning session, this takes quite a bit longer than the copier but produces a phenomenal result (in colour). If you would like to explore this further, please contact Learning Technologies team and we can advise you in selecting the right scanner (not all scanners work with Kurzweil) and the process (or you can check out the Kurzweil manual).