One of the challenges that both school districts and parents face during this time of school closure is how to help children with special learning needs succeed in home-based or online learning.Often it is difficult to imagine how to provide the same supports that are offered in school when children are at home or learning on the computer. Many parents do not feel that they are prepared to teach their child and many teachers do not know how to transfer the support that they usually offer to an online setting. In addition, quite a few families still have both parents working and do not always have the time they need to work with their children one-one-one. So, how can we offer accommodations and adapt what we are teaching so that all students can learn? That is what I am going to discuss in a series of posts over the next few weeks. Today we will focus on reading and writing.

Reading and Writing Accessibility (Accommodations)

Many students with learning differences in reading and writing have difficulty decoding text at the level that is necessary to access assignments given by their teacher at their grade level. For this reason, they often need a way to make reading quicker and easier so that they can focus on completing the work that has been assigned to them. Apps that highlight the word and allow the student to follow along in the text while it is read aloud are most beneficial. Many read-aloud programs are very costly, but there is a great free alternative that can be used at home, the Read and Write Extension for Google Chrome. Parents and students can use this free extension to read aloud text from websites, Google Documents, and PDF documents. Students can choose whether to hear a word or the entire page. Teachers can upgrade to the premium extension for free which has text and picture dictionaries to help students understand the meaning of unfamiliar words that they hear, word prediction to help with writing, spell-check, and a personal vocabulary list where students can store words that they wish to learn. In addition, your school’s special education department may already have individual student licenses where students can use premium features. 

For writing students may need dictation programs that allow you to speak aloud what you would like to write. The easiest to use free option for this is the voice-to-text feature in Google Documents. You can find this under “tools” and “voice typing”. Using this in conjunction with the  free Read and Write extension mentioned above allows students to write and then proofread what they have written for errors. 

 Reading and Writing Instructional Needs (Modified Instruction)

Another need that students may have while learning from home is access to appropriately leveled text, lessons, or practice. Many students with special learning needs are using research-based reading programs that are not designed to be used online. Luckily, many of these programs are coming out with resources for students to use for at home practice. The Wilson Reading Program has detailed information about how to continue instruction at home including full online workbooks that students can download and use for extra practice. 

There are many free or temporarily free options that allow students and parents to access leveled text. Programs on Reading A-Z allow students who are reading on a K-5 reading level to read text that is appropriately challenging in several different languages. The Razz Plus also on Learning A-Z allows students to work independently by teaching comprehension skills and reading text aloud. This program is free for a 14 day trial, but then requires a yearly subscription. Many schools have a site license that allows students to use the programs for free. Readworks is a completely free program where students can choose text based on their grade level (K-12) and interests. Then each passage, reading comprehension questions, and related vocabulary activities that accompany the text all can be read aloud. Story Mentors by the Barbara Bush Foundation offers 25 free leveled readers for young struggling readers with activities. Reading Rockets offers many reading activities but their Reading Adventure Packs are especially fantastic. Leveled by grade/reading level, students can choose a topic of interest like dinosaurs or music. The pack includes a fiction and nonfiction book suggestion, creative activity, imagination activity, real-world activity, and bookmark for grades K-3 in English and Spanish. Read, Write, Think offers free reading and writing lessons and activities for grades K-12.

Cultivating the Joy of Reading

Many students who struggle with reading and writing understandably do not enjoy it. Listening to books is a way to cultivate the joy of reading. In addition, free video read alouds may provide an educational activity that kids can participate in while parents are working. Younger children in preschool and early elementary will love Goodnight with Dolly where Dolly Parton reads a weekly children’s book. Each book has accompanying fun activities, a song, and parent guide. On Twitter @levarburton, Levar Burton from Reading Rainbow reads to kids on Mondays at 12:00 p.m. and young adults on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. Additional ideas for read alouds are the Indianapolis Public Library which has 100 free read aloud video books and Storyline Online which offers a selection of books read by celebrities. Older students may enjoy using Audible for Kindle to select books they are interested in and follow along as they listen to the book read aloud.

I would love to hear about resources you like to use for reading and writing instruction. Please leave your comments or questions below or on our Facebook post. I hope you will join me next week on Facebook Live Wednesday at 1:30 to discuss ways to make math more accessible.

 

~Nina

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Co-Owner and Director of Education

Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.

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Pam Cantrell Burton
Pam Cantrell Burton
2020-10-14T16:15:51+0000
Parrish Learning Zone helped my daughter with on-line SAT and college essay preparation. She not only scored in the top 90 percentile on the SAT after working with Lauren Cannavo, she especially benefited from the tutoring she received for her admission essays. My daughter was accepted at Notre Dame, UVA, William and Mary, and received scholarships to George Washington University and the University of Alabama. She was initially deferred at the University of Chicago and waitlisted at University of Michigan and Emory University. She eventually chose not to remain on the waitlists and committed to UVA.Lauren also advised our daughter regarding her submission of a 20 page essay on community service for DECA, a high school business club. Our daughter, along with her partner, won second place in her category at the DECA state competitions in 2019 and 2020, and received second place at the DECA international competition in 2019.Lauren was not only a top-notch professional, she really cared about our daughter and was so pleased about her accomplishments. We are so very grateful to her and Parrish Learning Zone.
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2020-05-11T21:51:37+0000
love the owner. love the detailed feedback. love the attentiveness of the tutor. love Parrish!!!
Jessica Bartels
Jessica Bartels
2019-02-26T22:49:55+0000
My daughter has a math learning disability and hated math. We started working with Nina Parrish and stuck with it for several months. Her grades have improved, but more importantly, so has her self confidence. She now loves going to work on math and will even work on it at home by herself. We are grateful for Parrish Learning Zone!
Laura Ivey Ellis
Laura Ivey Ellis
2018-12-14T14:36:43+0000
Mr. Chaves is an extremely gifted chemistry teacher. It's such a difficult subject--my son was drowning by the time we found PLZ. This was truly a last ditch effort on our part. Mr. Chaves was able to turn that ship around after only 4 lessons and my son passed the SOL! He was able to distill difficult concepts in a way that made them comprehensible and he was patient and kind and gave my son the confidence to succeed. His actual eacher expressed surprise and made a point of telling him he didn't know how he did it but he was impressed. It takes a gifted teacher to get results like that.I only wish we'd found PLZ and Mr. Chaves in the beginning of the school year.
Wendy Zelazny
Wendy Zelazny
2018-06-08T02:05:15+0000
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Anne Kater Reeves
Anne Kater Reeves
2018-06-07T22:46:05+0000
I highly recommend Parrish Learning Zone. My daughter was able to achieve the SAT score she was aiming for with the help of her Math (Mr. James Slane) and English (Mrs. Lauren Cannavo) tutors. Not only did they help her with practice tests but they also boosted her confidence in taking the SAT. The owners (Nina and Jay) were always prompt in answering my emails. They are very accommodating and worked around my daughter’s schedule (thank you Shiela for all your help in finding available dates for my daughter to meet with her tutors). Thank you Parrish Learning Zone for helping my daughter achieve her goal!
Beth Yankovich
Beth Yankovich
2018-03-23T20:29:18+0000
I can't say enough good things about Parrish Learning Zone. My son has historically suffered from low reading comprehension. I felt he needed a little extra help so I contacted Parrish Learning Zone. The owners at Parrish matched my son with the perfect tutor for him, they developed a rapport almost immediately. He is now in 8th grade and doing well in all his classes. My son is very active in school sports and the staff at Parrish are always very accommodating. They always reschedule with no problems. My son even likes to go early to chat with Sheila.
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Beth Kent
2017-11-08T18:59:11+0000
Awesome! Very structured and student focused - they identified the areas of weakness and turned those into areas of strength in a very short amount of time. I loved the communication from the tutor and the company. I received a specific report of my child's tutoring session including improvements and areas that needed continued work. I received reminders of upcoming tutor sessions - which I needed!! I felt the individual attention and service was worth every penny AND found the prices to be much more reasonable that other tutors in the area. I would HIGHLY recommend Parrish Learning Zone to any parent that needs to find highly competent tutoring help for their child. Parrish is simply the best!
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
2017-03-14T15:53:50+0000
An excellent place to take your kids for any tutoring needs! PLZ is a very personalized and hands on service! Both of my teenage boys have been through here for various reasons and I know we will continue to make use of them!
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Tammy Elms Mosco
2016-06-02T12:20:59+0000
Masiel Dubois
Masiel Dubois
2015-06-23T22:16:01+0000
SAT Prep Course with Parish Learning is definitely a worthwhile invest !!...My son's scores improved over 200 plus points!!
Janice Boles
Janice Boles
2014-12-02T22:34:32+0000
I am extremely thankful to Parrish Learning Zone. I have a son that is a freshman in college majoring in mechanical engineering. I am so glad that we found out about the Parrish Learning Zone because they were very caring and really worked hard around my sons high school football schedule to ensure that he received all of the needed instruction in order to do well on the SAT testing. It was a great investment for his future. I believe this experience prepared my son for the transition to college life. He was able to attend a top engineering college and to play football there. My daughter is a senior in high school now and was admitted into two of the top ranked public schools in Virginia. She will be a freshman at one of these schools next year. She also was enrolled in the Parrish Learning Zone for preparation for the SAT. I am again thankful to the Parrish Learning Zone and feel that this was a great long term investment into their futures. I would strongly recommend the Parrish Learning Zone to anyone looking for an environment that offers a caring and knowledgeable approach to educating students. They are the best.
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Angela Jackson
2014-05-15T00:39:39+0000
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Andrew Powers
2014-02-09T12:32:29+0000

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