District: Fairfax County School District • Location: Fairfax, VA
Fairfax County 5th graders worked on a global reading initiative in social studies to learn about ancient cultures. Every 5th grader in the district participated including those with special needs, ESOL, and students in general education. Students who needed reading accommodations were given the opportunity to use Read:OutLoud, an accessible text reader that reads content aloud through text-to-speech.
Educators Use Accessible Text Reader for 5th Grade Global Social Studies Unit
In 2010, 5th graders across Fairfax County worked on a global reading initiative in social studies to learn about ancient cultures. Students were expected to think critically to answer eight essential questions about how ancient civilizations effect our world today in relationship to art, government and geography. They went online, researched, gathered facts and information and wrote about their findings. Every 5th grader in the district participated including students with special needs, ESOL, and students in general education.
How did students with varying abilities work on the same project?
Through the use of ARRA funds, students who needed reading accommodations were given the opportunity to use Read:OutLoud, an accessible text reader that reads content aloud through text-to-speech. Fairfax purchased unlimited site licenses of Read:OutLoud so that more students could experience what it’s like to learn in multi-sensory ways, i.e. the ability to see and hear content read aloud. Research proves that this duality learning benefits students with disabilities and students who struggle in traditional learning settings. Read:OutLoud includes study tools like highlighters, a bibliographer and an accessible web browser. This text reader opens the widest range of electronic formats to save teachers time in producing accessible instruction materials. Lisa Givens, AT specialist said, “Teachers can provide new learning opportunities for kids who struggle with required core curriculum. With Read:OutLoud teachers took specific chapters from a large textbook and converted them into electronic content. Their students could better manage assignment to navigate chapters and pages. Teachers created custom assignments to help some students adapt to working on the same project as peers. Through the unlimited site license, students used the software at home for continued studies and to finish projects. This was a good use of ARRA funds to build capacity in our district. Through the Read:OutLoud assistive technology software, we can provide school-wide accessible instruction materials and reading comprehension tools to benefit all students.”