April 2016
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ECT Train the Trainer

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For more information on regional meetings and training events please contact your regional technology coordinator. 
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"Technology & Learning Connections - MTSS: Increasing student 
achievement through the systemic alignment of technology, policies, 
and curriculum in a multi-tiered system of supports." 
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readingReading Comprehension
young girl with glasses sitting at desk in front of laptop next to a stack of books.

Reading comprehension is a critical component of academic success. Students need to be able to understand informational and literary text as well as share what they have learned. This process is a complex set of skills that include reading, note-taking, memorizing, integrating new ideas with current knowledge, and recalling detailed facts.

From a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) perspective, how can schools support reading comprehension?
  • Is information provided to students in a manner that promotes perceptual clarity? For example, digital text that is transformable and customizable by each unique learner. 
  • Are technology and paper-based tools available to help visually map out concepts, plots, main ideas, and timelines?
  • Are scaffolds in place for students who need support with sequencing, information organization, and note taking?
  • Are study tools available for students to use in the classroom and at home?
Now is a great time to start planning on how you will integrate reading comprehension supports into your reading and content instruction next year.
graphicGraphic Organizers
To take information and transform it into useable knowledge, students must be able to order, sequence, organize, and relate different pieces of information. Students who face limitations in managing information and resources can seem disorganized and have a difficult time recalling information. Providing graphic organizers, concept maps, mind maps, timelines, and outlines can help students organize information and visually integrate the different bits of information or events with each other. 

graphic organizer titled charlotte_s web. shows multiple pictures such as a pig_ spider web_ and book connected with arrows
The Kidspiration and Inspiration software programs and companion iOS apps encourage students to create their own graphic organizers to arrange information, explore relationships between concepts, and create presentations. Students can create webs, concept maps, Venn diagrams, and outlines. These programs include an extensive symbol library covering a wide variety of curricular content to help students make visual connections and express their thoughts and ideas.

image showing graphic organizers titled main idea_ making predictions_ problem solution 1_ problem solution 2

Tools4Students 2 is an iOS app that includes 25 fillable and reusable graphic organizer templates. Focus skills include main idea and detail, sequencing, KWL, word meaning, compare and contrast, collecting chapter notes, analyzing documents, writing organizers, and more. Additionally, the app includes 7 blank organizers that are customizable. Organizers can be saved as PDFs and exported to email or printers.

picture shows the title what happens in an internet minute at the top. Below is a picture of interconnected blocks with indistinguishable titles written on them. Below is the statement and future growth is staggering

Venngage is an online resource for creating infographics. Infographics (information graphics) provide students with a creative way to apply new information, make predictions, retrieve information, research details on a specific topic, and collect useful information. When using Venngage, the user is able to select from a variety of infographic templates including designs for reports, posters, and social media posts. The drag and drop interface provides access to a library of images, including charts, maps, icons, and other visuals. Customizable color and text complete the process. Finished infographics can be uploaded to social networks, embedded in blogs and websites, or downloaded as a PDF image.

picture shows several unknown paintings of individuals in sitting poses. Descriptive blocks are below each painting and have text to small to read.

Tiki-Toki is an online and desktop app for creating 3D interactive timelines that can be shared on the Internet. Timelines can include multiple images, audio, and video, including integration with YouTube and Vimeo. Timelines are issued unique URL addresses that can be embedded or shared with others for viewing and collaboration.  

4 stacked black and white simple graphic organizers

TeacherVision is a repository of hundreds of printable, ready-to-use graphic organizers. Organizers are categorized by grade level, content area, and organizer type. Content area categories include writing, math, and science.  Customizable organizers are available as well as a gallery of popular graphic organizers covering a range of topics.
Study Guides
Knowing what to review and study can be a challenging task for students who have a difficult time discerning what the important core concepts are and which information is supporting or supplemental details. To help eliminate barriers and identify key concepts:
  • Highlight or visually mark up text to support visual navigation of content.
  • Simplify digital and online text by removing distractions on the page.
  • Use text summarizers to reduce the amount of content in a reading selection so students can learn the core ideas, then add the rest of the content.
  • Provide opportunities for students to access study guides.
logo banner titled sparknotes

SparkNotes is a collection of online resources and includes study guides, quizzes, videos, and strategies to help students understand content. The resources are useful for students as homework helpers, to understand literary elements, for writing papers, and studying for tests. Study guides include coverage of literature, math, science, history, and the social sciences. SparkNotes also provides specific test prep resources for the SAT, ACT, and GRE.  

book cover image of Earnest Hemingway The old man and the sea. Blue background with small village in the foreground

FreeBookNotes is a study guide search engine for books, plays, and poems. The website hosts a vast collection of free book notes, study guides, book summaries, chapter summaries, and analyses. Full study guides and other support resources are available for popular titles such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, Animal Farm, 1984, Romeo and Juliet and many more.

book cover title ap chemistry crash course showing a high school age girl writing in a notebook Crash Course for AP is a collection of study guides and online resources for helping students prepare for advanced placement final exams. Content  for the materials was developed from analysis of past AP exams and actual test questions. Test taking and study strategies are provided as well as online practice tests. Practice tests include quizzes, min-tests and full-length exams that generate topic-level score reports to help students narrow needed study areas.  Students are able to create e-flashcards with trackable data that can be accessed from computers, tablets, and smartphones.  Available AP subject areas include Biology, Chemistry, World History, U.S. History, Government, Calculus, Spanish, French, and more. Printed study guides as well as digital versions for Kindle devices are available on Amazon.
flashFlashcard Apps
Students may need instructional scaffolds as they review information and commit it to memory for future recall. Strategies that may be helpful for students include providing opportunities to:
  • Process or reading through the content several times, each time with a different focus (e.g. making personal connections with the text, asking questions, analyzing the structure, reading for understanding, reviewing).
  • Create visual graphic organizers or timelines to help organize the information.
  • Create illustrations for parts of the information and explaining the thinking behind the illustrations.
  • Compare and contrast different ideas, events, and concepts.
Students may also prefer the use of flash card type tools to review facts and events such as these listed below.

The Cram website and mobile apps for Android, Apple, and Windows devices are systems for creating and studying flashcards that can be synced between devices. Students can choose from over 130 million flashcards categorized by subject area including literature, science, math, social studies, and foreign languages. Several study modes allow the student to customize their learning as they review content. Flashcards can be shared by users including peer-to-peer and teacher-created sets for entire classrooms. 

blue logo icon with a white letter q The Quizlet app for Android and Apple mobile devices allow a student to create and review flashcards in a variety of modes. The flashcard mode includes a text-to-speech option and students progress through flashcards one-by-one at their own pace to review content. A second study mode requires learners to input a correct answer before progressing to the next flashcard. In the match mode all flashcards are laid out as hints and answer cards and must be paired as quickly as possible. User content is linked to the Quizlet website where content can also be created. The website also includes a variety of teacher tools.

blue logo icon with the letters S and B superimposed over each other
 The StudyBlue app for Android and Apple mobile devices includes tools for finding and creating flashcards, organizing study resources, and tracking progress. Students can search by subject area for flashcards from the app or StudyBlue website or they can create their own. Flashcards can include text, images, and audio. Self-assessment scores are generated from study sessions and students can store and organize notes, syllabi, practice tests, and flashcards in a digital backpack. Study tools can be used collaboratively and synced with Evernote. 
Studying multiple big ideas across multiple content areas can leave a student with a large assortment of notes, including such things as written notes, diagrams, sketches, web resources, journal reviews, and handouts. The large collection of resources can also generate multiple storage areas such as notebooks, lockers, and unkempt backpacks. Students that are inheritenly disorganized may find it very difficult to locate resources. Providing digital notebooks that allow the integration of multiple sources can a help a student manage materials. 

screen shot from one note showing what appears to be shrimp and some indistinguishable writing
Microsoft OneNote is a free-form information-gathering electronic notebook that is ideal for collaborative projects, journaling, and note taking. The Microsoft OneNote canvas has the appearance of Microsoft Office and includes the familiar tool bars and formatting tools. However, it is a limitless canvas that allows users to type or create notes in any location on the page. Users can even include handwritten or typed notes, drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries. OneNote is organized by a tab system that includes options for multiple notebooks and multiple pages for each notebook. OneNote is available as a part of Microsoft Office and is now available as a free stand-alone app for Windows, Mac, Windows RT, Windows Phones, iOS, and Android. Through OneDrive or Office Online, users are able to edit notes via a web browser. This also allows access across a single user's devices or to share ideas with others. 

screen shot from evernote showing indistinguishable writing Evernote is a cross-platform program for collecting a variety of media as notes including formatted text, webpages, photographs, voice memos, handwritten notes, and file attachments that can be tagged, annotated, and edited. Notes can be sorted and organized into searchable notebooks. Evernote can be setup to receive information directly to specified notebooks from emails, tweets, and other programs. The program also provides seamless download integration with LiveScribe digital pens.

screen shot from live binders with indistinguishable writing and clipart image of children forming a pyramid
LiveBinders are virtual 3-ring binders useful for collaborating, organizing, and sharing. The tabbed binders support a variety of content including web links, documents, spreadsheets, and surveys. This also includes Google Forms, PowerPoint, SlideShare, and Prezi. Example uses of LiveBinders includes: 
  • Posting mathematic assignments and exercises.
  • Organizing social studies and science videos.
  • Organizing notes from a variety of classes.
  • Collaborating with other teachers.
  • Posting student e-portfolios with sample work.
  • Providing flipped classroom learning material.
  • Posting homework support.
  • Providing parent information.
  • Sharing photos.
  • Providing resources for online professional development. 
Users can keep their binders private and share them with selected users or make them public. Public binders are categorized as business, educational, or personal and are searchable by topic. 
liveLiveScribe Smartpens
shows a live scribe pen in a writing position hovering over livesribe paper with indistinguishable writing Students with learning disabilities and attention disorders sometimes struggle to keep up with note-taking during classroom lectures. Some students have difficulty processing information and by the time they have heard, processed, and written down an idea the teacher has already moved on to the next point. Smartpens provide an independent solution for students to take accurate digitized notes that are easy to store, organize, search, and share. Smartpens are ballpoint pens with an embedded computer and digital audio recorder that are used to record spoken words and synchronize them with the notes users write on special paper. During the lecture students can create outlines, concept maps, diagrams, or even doodles. Entire lectures or specific sections can be replayed by simply tapping the pen's tip on words or pictures written by the student. For more features, including the ability to stream written notes directly to an iOS device,  please visit the Livescribe homepage at
addresourcesAdditional Accessibility Resources
Students with disabilities can have a difficult time interacting with the navigational features of computers, tablets, and mobile devices thereby making engaging and interactive programs inaccessible. The technologies below are some examples of assistive technology that can reduce these barriers. Click here to see even more assistive technologies.

image of a braille note
The BrailleNote Apex QT 32 can help eliminate access barriers to students who are blind or have severe visual impairments. The device comes with a standard alphabetic (QWERTY) keyboard, voice output, and a 32-cell refreshable braille display. The lightweight device features thumb navigation by line, sentence, or paragraph with the braille keyboard. The scroll wheel allows for easy navigation in menus, documents, and e-mail lists. The Apex runs under the Microsoft Windows CE operating system and includes the KeySoft Suite of applications, which features a word processor, calendar, book reader, web browser, email client, contacts manager, voice memo, media player, streaming audio player, and Keychat for instant messaging (IM).

image of a eye-pal The Eye-Pal SOLO camera-based reading and magnifying device can be used to read items such as books, newspapers, magazines, mail, cookbooks, and more. The stand-alone device is fast, accurate, requires no special training, and is ready to use right out of the box. It can be connected to an external monitor or home TV to view pictures, magnified text or to write. 

Abilipad, an iOS app, is a customizable keyboard and adaptive notepad with word prediction and text-to-speech. The keyboard editor allows the user to assign each key any letter, word, sentence, picture, or audio recording. Cells can be merged together to create larger keys that have adjustable fonts, sizes, and colors assigned to the grid keys and letters. Abilipad is Bluetooth enabled for use with a wireless keyboard and is VoiceOver accessible. Available languages include English, Spanish, French and German. Abilipad files, keyboards, and lessons can be exported to other Abilipad users.

image of an integramouse The IntegraMouse is an alternative mouse controlled by lip movements and sip and puff clicking. It works with communication aids based on Windows (such as the PowerBox 7, Tobii C Series or the Motion Tablet) and connects via the USB port. IntegraMouse has all the functions of a standard mouse enabling the user to control all functions of the computer by lip movements.

The Blue2 Bluetooth Switch provides access to compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch applications via Bluetooth wireless technology. Blue2 image of a blue 2 blue tooth switch supports both single and dual switch access with scanning through direct access using the two built-in switches. The device also includes external switch ports to support a variety of additional switches for specific individual needs. 
newsNews & Updates

image of stacked papers with indistinguishable writing Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law December, 2015 and replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The key components of the law are designed to focus on the goal of preparing all students for success in college and careers. Throughout the document there are also several references to Universal Design for Learning. These can be found in sections that address standard and alternate assessment, alternate academic achievement standards, and technology support. Additionally, there is a provision that State Education Agencies develop, revise, or update comprehensive literacy instruction plans to incorporate the principles of UDL. ESSA references the Higher Education Act of 1965 for an operational definition of UDL.

"...a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that-
(A) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented,
in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged;
(B) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate
accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient."

The Florida Department of Education K-12 Comprehensive Research Based Reading Plans webpage has a variety of resources useful for writing, reviewing, and reflecting on K-12 district reading plans. Visitors can also review other districts' plans. Tools include:
image of stacked papers with indistinguishable writing The guidelines provided for districts, schools, principals and teachers within the K-12 Comprehensive Research-Based Reading Plan are aligned with the critical components of the multi-tiered system of supports framework, including data-based problem-solving, and utilizing student-centered response to instructional/intervention data to make educational decisions. Providers of professional development must base training in reading instruction on evidence-based reading research. Professional development options must be provided in a manner that they address that the implementation of all instructional materials, all reading programs and strategies are based on evidence-based reading research, including early intervention, classroom reading materials, and accelerated programs. Professional development should also address immediate intensive intervention, UDL and multi-sensory instructional strategies.
partnersOur Partners
The Technology & Learning Connections Team is a part of the Problem Solving/ Response to Intervention Project. Services include the alignment of accessible instructional materials, assistive technology, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in a multi-tiered system of supports.  

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The Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System (FDLRS): providing services in the areas of Child Find, HRD, Parent Services, and Technology; including local TA&D, professional development, and capacity building in the areas of accessible instructional materials, assistive & Instructional technologies, UDL, and virtual learning.

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Local Assistive Technology Specialists (LATS): providing local support for assistive technology assessments, evaluations, and related assistive technology services.

Together we are working to help all schools implement a universal, differentiated core curriculum based on the Florida Standards.   

This newsletter was funded by the Florida Department of Education Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services through federal assistance under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), Part B funds. The information included does not reflect any specific endorsement by any parties involved. Please email Gary Pearcy for further information.