Monday, March 10, 2014

Connecting struggling readers with accessible resources

One in 10 students has a recognized disability under Americans with Disabilities Act--physical, emotional, reading,etc.  This is 2 kids per class in most schools.

How do you keep these kids up to grade level with reading.

Resources available for struggling readers

  • large print books are very useful (also can be great for struggling readers as they look easier)
  • not as many for teens because they are not published in quantity
  • e-readers can blow up fonts --make these available for kids to read; ipods and phones can also be made available
  • audios with books
  • databases--blow up page using CTRL+  many of the state databases have a text to speech icon and you can click that to have article read to you
Perkins focuses on general reading; Learning Ally focuses mostly on textbooks, but also has a collection of novels need to log in as a teacher and you can set up pages for your students--
Librarians can set up accounts for teachers and they can add students, indicate their students' disabilities and then see what is available for students

Kids with print disabilities can get accounts to download books

In Learning Ally:
  • Classic audio is what you'd think
  • audio with H shows text with audio
  • can work in ios and droid devices or you can download software on to a PC or mac; there is a free app in the itunes store; NOT compatible with kindle, nook or chrome books
Perkins School for Blind--you don't have to be legally blind to use their materials and services--just people who have any issues with seeing print (even if they can see) and people with learning disabilities, and people who have trouble physically holding a book
You can download applications for your organization
You receive books with an audioplayer in the mail
NO cost--including no postage
They have a ton of books, magazines, 

Perkins Newsline--accesses today's newspaper by telephone or computer; there are over 300 newspapers and 25 magazines.  To get into this 888-882-1629  you need an access code that you get through the Perkins Library

Lots of books for children and teens can be downloaded from a website--there is an app for this BARD mobile

Reading device from Perkins will allow you to change speed and tone of the reader (and app replicates this)

On a school account you can have up to 5 devices linked to Perkins that you can use to download

SMART Goals and Elementary Students

Elementary school librarians in the elementary Newton Public Schools presented on how they crafted and rolled out a group goal to set a uniform standard for their students and program.

Newton Director Chris Swerling said that power in SMART goals comes from collaboration with other teachers, using observable evidence and data to show that you are focused on something that matters, and it can help to align your goal with the school improvement plan or the Common Core Standards.

Librarians Rachel Lundquist, Patti Karem and Heather Leoleis described how the group goal was developed. The librarians had developed a 50 question survey for their grade 5 students to assess if they had mastered the skills that the librarians believed students should know before heading to middle school.  The survey was delivered to students in a google doc and the information was collected in a way to see if there were areas that needed attention.

The librarians reviewed the data from this survey and discovered that having students locate materials in the library after finding a call number in the computer catalog was a weakness in their district.  Based on this evidence, they decided that this was a skill they wanted to work on through their SMART goal.  The librarians decided to target grade 4 and decided to set it as a two-year goal, and developed 4 pre-assessments.  Their pre-assessment indicated that students did understand how to read the library records (students knew what the call number meant), but they could not located the book in the library once they had the record.

What surprised you about the data
What are the next steps

The librarians then developed a number of action steps--some were common among all the librarians, others were used used by specific librarians tweaked to meet the needs of specific schools and collections.  Students were asked for input in how to solve the problem--for example, they asked to have some of the signage changed to help them find books more easily.

The data informed instruction, and this process with preassessing students and seeing the results at the end really does help to ensure that you are making progress with your students.  Some real benefits of this process helps to show your administrators the teaching and learning happening in the school learning.

All teachers were required to do the work for the goal--but librarians were given leeway to accomplish the goal in different ways.  For instance, meetings were held for those librarians who wanted to discuss action steps in detail after school, but librarians who felt confident about how they were moving forward were not required to attend these.

Jarrett Krosozcka

Jarrett Krosozcka, creator of the Lunch Lady series, described a childhood where he was constantly reading comic books, but sure that this was not really reading.  Yet, he pointed out that he walked a three mile  round trip to buy comic books each week.  He pointed out that this commitment does indicate that he probably was  reader.  He told us that he values that librarians because they have championed the graphic novel.  He also said he does not like the idea of promoting comic books and graphic novels as "gateway books" that kids will eventually give up as they discover "real books."  He, instead, sees these as a parallel universe where something such as Art Spiegelman's Maus is the pinnacle you want kids to reach.

Krosozcka described the path that led to his success as a children's book author and illustrator.  He showed us that from an early age, he'd been an artist and an illustrator--producing books and comic strips throughout out elementary school and high school.  He received support and encouragement throughout, and it led him to RSDI, where he concentrated on developing picture books.  He told us how an author visit from Jack Gantos encouraged him, how his grandparents saved his work, and how a teacher led him to become a reader through (of all things) Anne of Green Gables.

Korsozcka described how he creates the Lunch Lady books.  We saw the genesis of this series, the process he uses to create the page, and described what happens when you create a series.  His newest series Platypus Police Squad, he describes as a cross between Frog and Toad are Friends and Lethal Weapon.  He told us that he does his research by visiting cafeterias, watching platypus videos and riding in police cars.