24 April 2015

Alternative Access project - using switches to support students - picture book read aloud at Seneca School

Using Assistive Technology to Make Picture Books Come to Life for Students

Most children enjoy visiting their school library and having a picture book read aloud to them. Donna is the Teacher-Librarian at Seneca School and does a great job using assistive technology to bring stories to life and to make library visits a positive experience for the students at Seneca School.

In March, Donna read the story “Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear?” by Bill Martin Jr. to classes that visited the library. But she didn’t just READ the book, she used assistive technology to make the story interactive and  accessible for students with various physical needs.

Here are 5 ways to make picture books (e.g., “Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear?”) interactive and accessible for students:

1.Read the book, bringing the book close to students so they can see and touch the pictures. Record the repetitive line in the story “What do you hear?” into a voice output device (e.g., Smoothtalker or Step-by-Step), every time you get to that part in the story ask the student(s) to press the switch to say that line aloud.

2. There are pre-made PowerPoint presentations of the book “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?” online that you can download for free. Show the PowerPoint presentation on an Interactive Whiteboard and students can use a switch (e.g., Jelly Beamer wireless switch with the receiver connected to a Don Johnston Switch Interface)  to turn the page in the PowerPoint book. Students can also read the PowerPoint book on an individual computer using a switch.

3. Record the different pages of the story into a voice output device (e.g., Step-by-Step with levels) so that during activity centre time students can independently read the book by pressing the switch to read each page (students may need some adult support to turn the pages of the book).

   4. Find some videos of animals that are in this story, during activity centre time play these videos on a computer. One way you can make video viewing interactive and accessible is to set up a switch to be “left-click” and hover the cursor over the pause/play icon on the screen.  Students can press switch to start/ pause video (a great way to help students learn cause and effect use of switches).

These four ideas can be applied to many pictures books. Enjoy creating accessible and interactive literacy activities for you students!

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