Science of Teaching Reading: Explicit Instruction, Universal Design for Learning, & Technology

Video Transcript

Susan Hartz:
Hi, good afternoon everybody, and welcome to this presentation of the Science of Teaching Reading: Explicit Instruction, Universal Design for Learning, and Technology and Digital Tools. My name is Susan Hartz. I am with Everspring, I am an admissions outreach advisor on behalf of the University of Kansas for their online graduate education programs. And joining me today is Dr. Irma Brasseur-Hock, Dr. James Basham and Dr. Sean Smith. And well, first, let's go over just some fun facts about the University of Kansas School of Education and Human Sciences. First, according to US News and World Reports, KU has the number one online master's in Special Education.

KU was established in 1866 in Lawrence, Kansas, and the School of Education was established in 1909. Has a global network of more than 300,000 KU alumni. That's a lot of Jayhawks, also accredited under NCATE/CAEP standards for programs that lead to Licensure outcome. Also ranks as the number 23 best online education programs for veterans. But here are all of these special education program offerings that are offered online. There is a graduate certificate and Master's degree in autism spectrum disorders, a Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Special and Inclusive Education. There is a Master's in High Incidence Disabilities that leads to a Licensure Endorsement, and then also the Graduate Certificate and Master's in secondary special education and transition.

Here are just some of the online structures and features. The coursework is 100% online. You would never be asked to come to campus. There is a practical approach to education, so that way you can implement everything you learn in your courses into your own classroom. Very much designed for, with the working professional in mind. It is at a part-time pace, there is no GMAT or GRE requirement, there's three start times per year, all spring and summer, a very engaging online environment, and then again, those licensure outcome programs are accredited under NCATE/CAEP standards.

And also just some hiring and salary trends for KU Special Education graduates, over 83% of KU Special Education graduates received a salary increase within a year of graduation from KU, and then an overwhelming amount of alumni recommend the program, 97%. Wow. And then also, real quick before we meet our presenters, I just want to take a quick roll poll just to get an idea of who's joining us today, so go ahead and quickly fill that out if you can. Right. I love how it's all... Let's see. We've got a lot of elementary teachers with us today, I'm loving all the people in the chat, letting us know where they're at.

We've got some instructional coaches, we got early interventionists, reading coordinators. Wow. A quite... Oh, school psychologists, academic coach. Wow, we got quite a lot of a variety of educators with us today. That's great. Very cool. Oh wow, I love it. Thank you so much for sharing everybody. It looks like we've got a lot of elementary teachers and various other educators with us today. Great, cool I think we can wrap that up, I think we got everybody, and then now let's go ahead and meet our speakers today. Let's start with Dr. Irma Brasseur-Hock.

Dr. Irma Brasseur-Hock:
Thank you all for joining us today. I am a teaching professor here at the University of Kansas in our High Incidence Master's Program, and I am also the Director of our online programs, and I work along with the faculty who are gonna introduce themselves, and it's a pleasure to be here.

Susan Hartz:
Dr. James Basham?

Dr. James Basham:
Hi everyone. I'm James Basham, a professor here in the Department of Special Education. Much of my work is around Universal Design for Learning and Instructional Design, Technology and Innovation. By designing new technologies and new approaches to using technology in the classroom, and I oversee a number of centers and projects throughout the university, and I love working with students. Done.

Dr. Sean Smith:
Good afternoon everybody, Sean here, Professor in Special Education. Jamie, I could say I echo what Jamie does very similarly, also recently elected to the president in the National Down Syndrome Congress, I have a son with down syndrome and very near and dear to my heart, but like Jamie we lead with innovation and technology solutions, looking forward to today. And thanks for having us here.

Dr. Irma Brasseur-Hock:
So I'll go ahead and get us started. We're looking at our topic today on the Science of Teaching Reading: Explicit Instruction, Universal Design for Learning, and Technology Tools. And our focus has been on impacting the outcomes for students with high-incidence disabilities. So thank you again for joining us. Our hope is that when you're done, you'll be able to answer these three main questions. What is Explicit Instructions, particularly a focus on explicit modeling in practice and feedback. Another one is, how can you plan... Can planning instruction through Universal Design for Learning, provide a lens to impact student reading, and then again, what digital solution support student reading. So I'll be the first one to go, and then I'm gonna pass it on to Dr. Basham. And he'll move along to Dr. Smith. So here we go.
So I'm looking at Explicit Instruction, one of the things that's embedded within our master's programs here, and so we thought we'd give you an idea of some of the things that may be available to you if you joined our programs. So I start out with what is Explicit Instruction, and many of you may have heard of this term before, but really it's the teacher's behavior is frequently associated with student learning outcomes, and I provide for you a couple of different ways that people have articulated that, we have Anita Archer and Charly Cues, who've looked at it through the lens of a purposeful way of teaching students where instruction is systematic, direct, engaging and success-oriented and shown to promote achievement for all students.

We also have Ashman, who is more recently is taking the idea of Explicit Instruction, and I think provides a lens from the teachers, maybe language or communication, and he says when we choose to follow a process that makes us examine the individual elements we are attempting to teach and then constantly check whether students have grasped them. So with that in mind, I'd like to move us forward to the nuts and bolts of what Explicit Instruction is, and there are several different people who have been looking into this area of just what is the pedagogy that impacts our students who have learning differences and particular things like learning disabilities, reading disabilities, ADHD and so on and so forth, who may be in our classrooms.
And so what I did is there are some who look and they have 16 different processes that would be in place for Explicit Instruction, all the way down to just five steps, I have went ahead and summarized these for us into this first area you see here called Explicit Instruction, notice that it's wrapped with pre-test and post-test, because Explicit Instruction is definitely led through data-driven decisions, so we always are looking at where are we starting and where do we wanna end, and along the way, what are the formative type of assessments that can occur when we're having students practice, but looking at this, what we really wanna move towards is a model that many people are familiar with which is the I Do It, We Do It, You Do It.
And so I took the pieces here of Explicit Instruction and thought that I would just take a little bit of time and highlight them through the lens of I Do It, We Do It, You Do It, with some supporting practices that really support both of these areas as we work through it with students. So when we're looking at modeling, one of the things that is very, very important is that clear explanation that we provide to students as we're doing a model with planned, hard, examples, and then we move to practice where it's guided practice and independent practice.
So as students are going through and sitting with us through the I do it phase, they're really looking at a low cognitive load on their part because the main responsibility is coming from the teacher, and that is where they use most of their time thinking aloud using metacognition and clearly and precisely presenting what we want the students to be learning and applying eventually. When students get to the point of guided practice where they're working with partners or in triads, there is kind of this medium level of cognitive load on the students because it's guided and there's input from everyone to ensure that we understand exactly what is happening, and then we move to the independent practice where that's the highest level of cognitive load for our students, where we're really determining have they actually mastered and picked this up and applying and having opportunities.

Now supporting practices during any of the I Do It, We Do It, You Do It are things that are like asking the right questions, listening carefully to how students are interpreting what we're doing, getting frequent responses from students to ensure that they're with us on the ride as we're presenting, and then maybe one of the critical pieces that allow us to really re-teach and address individual student needs is looking at providing positive, corrected, immediate feedback as they're applying what we're teaching, and then maintaining abreast pace, keeping it moving along so students can stay with us and stay engaged.

So I'd like to take a moment and demonstrate for you what a model may look like. It may not look like. So as I move along here, for example, we can pretend that one of our jobs for the students, the purpose of looking at Freak The Mighty, the book, is to read this excerpt from Chapter Seven, and their job is to predict what will happen next. So a model could be, "Hey, students watch, I'm gonna read this and I'm gonna predict what's happening." So this is called Walking High Above The World. You ever notice how the smell of gunpowder makes you thirsty? Because after the fireworks I'm aiming us for where the food carts are parked along the street, thinking about an Ice-cold lemonade, how clean it will taste, and for a moment I almost forget that Freak is riding on my shoulders. "Amazing perspective up here," he's saying. "This is what you see all the time." "I'm not that big," I say. "This way you're like two feet taller than me.""Cool," he says. "I love it." We're working our way through the crowd and we're almost to the food carts when Freak tugs on my hair. "Cretin at two o'clock," he says, real urgent. "Two more at three o'clock." I go, "Huh? What?" "The Blade and his gang" Freak hisses."They've locked on to us. Their trajectory is con-verging. Go to the left," he says. "Make it quick, if you want to live."

If I make a prediction from what this is, is that they are going to need to get out of there quickly so that this group Blade and his gang don't come and bully them. So that's my prediction and that would be a model. So you read it and you state a prediction. What I'm saying is when we're doing modeling, I want you to do metacognitive, think aloud. And that looks different than what this model would look like. So as we move forward, you see here that as I'm reading, if you look at that first part, I've underlined the words "gunpowder, thirsty, fireworks, ice cold lemonade Freak is riding on his shoulders and perspective up here." So I would highlight these items for our students as I think aloud because these are the words that make me think this statement over here in this brown box that says right now they're leaving some type of festival maybe, and Freak is on Max's shoulders overseeing everything around them. And then as I read further, I could find that I could highlight these words and phrases that help me to understand what I'm reading and to begin to make that prediction.

So I've underlined the words like "Freak tugs on my hair, Cretin at two o'clock, two more at three o'clock. Blade and his gang locked on us." I also took time to highlight the word trajectory because maybe I don't know exactly what it means. So trajectory, oh, this means movement. As I break apart the different pieces of that or converging, converging, knowing that that means coming towards. So I could think aloud, metacognitively, these things that I have happening as I'm reading to help me make a prediction. All of these items we could bring to the forefront so students can see exactly how this thinking occurs when you're an expert reader. And so to make a prediction based on that, you see the lighter brown box there. It says, based on this information, I predict that Freak and Max are going to try and get away from Blade and his gang, but might not be able to because Max has Freak on his shoulders making it hard to run away.

That's my explicit example for explicit instruction and modeling. So not just showing them, but really using metacognitive thinking so that these students understand the process that you go through as an expert to interpret and make a prediction. So that's the modeling piece. Now I just wanna take a few minutes to go ahead and what I'd like to do is look at providing positive, corrective immediate feedback. So when we look at that, here's an example that we can look at. So for example, here's some positive corrective feedback, a non-example and an example. So let's say that the student was given, this is part of what they're reading. A caterpillar morphing into a butterfly is a transformative process and they come across this word and they're not really familiar with what it means. So they use a strategy. They've been learning to break apart the affixes and try to figure out the smaller pieces of what that means.

So they've identified and highlighted T-R-A-N-S and say that that's the root, and then IVE as a suffix. And they're still struggling to figure out what the word is. So the teacher comes over and as a non-example of positive corrective feedback, it might look something like this. It looks like you forgot to find the prefix in this word. It would be TRANS meaning a across the root is form, which means shape. The suffix ive... means causing or making. So we could figure out that transformative means causing a change in something. So now if we were doing actually positive corrective type of feedback, it would look something like this. So you see here, thinking back at the part where he has TRANS in the yellow and IVE in the blue, you could have language, something like this. You were able to chunk this word into three pieces and locate the correct suffix.

Let's dig deeper and see if we can find the prefix and correct root. First I look at the beginning of the word and see TRANS, which is the prefix, meaning across. Next you found the suffix IVE, which means causing. Then we find the root form, which means shape. We can reread the sentence and think about the meaning of the affix is to understand what this word means, which is to have something to change its form. So that could be the difference of not providing positive correct feedback to what it would look like if you did provide positive corrective feedback.

The other thing that I wanted to do in my time that I have to share with you is just quickly share with you that there is the IES practice guide out there called Providing Reading Interventions for Students in Grades Four Through Nine that embed much of what we know needs to be taught from the science of reading. You'll see that built in there, but also what it does is it embeds those effective explicit instruction practices within what they're recommending. So I provide that as an example of a guide, and then also we wanna step back and say, so what really matters then? I shared with you explicit instruction. And one thing that happened is when Swanson did his meta-analysis in 2001, what jumped out in the analysis was explicit modeling and practice were the two key elements that impacted outcomes for students. The other piece was your advanced organization, in other words, planning. And there is my transition to turn this on over to Dr. Basham who's gonna look at this through the lens of Universal Design for Learning.

Dr. James Basham:
So, hey everyone, so one of the things we think about in the practice of teaching is the way things are planned. And so when we think about planning, we immediately go back to what are the foundations of which we teach, what are we actually trying to teach? And to me, I always go back to the one thing that's in our head, right? The brain, and what do we know about the brain? We know that no two brains are exactly alike. In fact, we all have vastly different brains. There's lots of complexity to these brains. And without going into too much detail, how do we know that? How do we know that?

Well, what's interesting is when we look at what cognitive neuroscience has done, and what they started doing was comparing how they thought brains would perform in one area compared to another area. So they used to take experts and they would compare how experts perform to non-experts. But what's interesting is Miller and colleagues back in 2002 found that these experts that were doing stuff that were actually doing a quick recall, were actually able to rather than comparing the two brains, they real... All the brains, they realized they were vastly different from one another. And in fact, what you're looking at here are nine brains that represent the nine experts that were doing a quick recall task. And when I say they're experts at doing something.

They were able to do the same task within milliseconds of one another, and what they were skiing was what was going on in the brain during that process, and if you look very closely, you could see little red highlights circles on the different brains. And if I was in a large group of people and we were able to interact right now, I'd be having people raise their hands to say, "Look at this group, average the mean down here, and then look at brain one, and does the group average look like brain one? And then we'd look at brain two and brain three and brain four."

And what you come to find out is that even across a room of people, it's pretty obvious the brains are vastly different from another, and Miller and colleagues back in 2002, said, "Well, wait a minute here. Yeah, the computer can average these things, an average is a mathematical sort of function, we can always do that. But what they found was that these brains are vastly different from one another in fact, but yet they're all experts in that task, and so what they led... This us to believe and what it has continued to promote is the idea is there's really no such thing as average especially when we talk about the way children and students learn in our classrooms, and so when we think about doing in supporting reading instruction in classrooms, whether you're in elementary school, whether in high school, we have to think about design. We have to think about what goes into design of effective instruction.

And we know that design matters, and in fact, when we look at design studies. They'll tell you, and this is a percent that's continually found, they're about is that 80% of the environmental impact of our product services and infrastructures are determined at the design stage, meaning that the design that we put into designing for instruction is critically important for supporting the outcomes that we want. And in fact, if we design for the average learner at the very beginning, the outcomes are going to be representative of that, and if there's no such thing as an average learner, it's gonna be you're really designing for no one from the very beginning. And so this is what we start thinking about... Well, what are the variables that go into play.

Well, this is where UDL comes into play, and I'm guessing that multiple people that are out there right now have heard of Universal Design for Learning or UDL, it's a framework that was created about 25 years ago out of a small non-profit group of cast. But what is UDL? UDL is a design framework that's goal-driven and used for designing effective environments and experiences for all learners. It uses the ability... It takes the notion of what are the variables that are in every learning environment, and what are those things that we have to design around, how do we design for flexible means so that we can design for all learners from the very beginning, and that's where UDL kind of... That's the starting point of UDL.

And then UDL gets into supporting multiple means of engagement to support the effective network of the learning process or the why of learning, providing multiple means of representation to get into the recognition network of learning or the what of learning and providing multiple means of action and expression so that students can show what they know, and that aligns with the strategic network of learning, which gets into the how of learning. So we're not getting into a lot of detail obviously here in this quick webinar, but what you need to know is that a lot of what we do and a lot of what we think about in our program is around Universal Design for Learning, and how to actually apply it effectively in classrooms.

Susan Hartz:
And where it really starts is really at three different levels, so if you look at the slide, the slide goes into the UDL guidelines and the guidelines kinda break apart and tell us a little bit more about the framework, so you have multiple means of engagement, multiple means of representation, multiple means of action expression across the top. But what's critically important in what many people overlook in UDL is the idea that we're doing three things as we're implementing the three principles and the guidelines overall. In that we are providing for access at the very base level of UDL or providing for access and accessibility. In that if a student doesn't have that base level, they can't go forward in the process.

Dr. James Basham:
So the first thing we think about is, what does it take for students to be able to access the material, and how do we build that in the way we teach? And then the second part of it is the building for understanding and building to accomplish the goal, and that's the second thing that we're continually working on, and then the third part of it is getting into the internalization, the idea that how are we internalizing these understandings and doing these higher orders for our thinking skills? Now, you can go and download the guidelines, they're right there, you can go to the QR code or URL at CAST website right there.

And we can get into a lot of depth and detail on these, in fact, in our program, we spend a lot of time talking about these things and how they're actually implemented, but today we don't have a lot of time to do that, so what we wanna do is just talk about what does this mean for the way we teach reading? And what we know about reading is that reading is actually much more difficult than initially thought, that in reality, often times people said, "Well, reading difficulties come down to word recognition and language comprehension," but in reality, science has showed us over and over again that reading difficulties have many more causes and in fact, some of the most overlooked causes directly related to what we talk about in UDL.
Specifically around that we actually need to provide for multiple means of engagement, representation, action expression. Because there's not one single practice to teach all students how to read, there's not... Science has not shown us one single teaching practice that is able to teach all students to read, and in fact, if you go into the IES practice guides, which Irma just showed you, which are phenomenal, by the way, they all talk about providing multiple means, providing multiple ways for students to engage with the text, for students to develop understanding or have representation of the text, and then for them to be able to take action, express themselves.

So when we break down these things and we think about how do we teach reading, and what are the things we need to think about, we have to think about things under multiple means of engagement such as recruiting interest and sustaining effort and persistence and self-regulation. And under-representation, we have to think about how students perceive things and the language and symbols, are they understanding it, and then are they moving towards comprehension. And then how do we have students take action with these things and provide for multiple means of action expression in the way that they can take both physical action and have expression in communication and then move towards executive functional.

And if we even break it further for a part into what the research says about effective teaching of reading. It gets into more than just the things we just talked about, it actually gets into recruiting interest, considering the cultural and situational context, developing homeschool connectivity, helping the student sustain effort and persistence and that self-regulation. And here's the interesting thing about teaching reading, is most of the time people are focused on that representational part, like how are we actually reading and breaking apart the text when the reality is a large part of it is taking that action and expression and is around engagement, and it is important to obviously do these other things too, such as ensuring students have perception access and usability that you can support word recognition.

That you could bridge processes of fluency and vocabulary knowledge and develop language comprehension, but then also ensure that they have ways to take action, express and communicate their own understanding and then support their abilities to develop their own goals and strategies for what works for them. And this is especially important as we move into my colleague with Dr. Smith here in a couple minutes. And the things that he's talking about, because there are lots of ways and tools and things out there that we can use to teach reading, but we need students to be able to develop their own strategies and goals for determining that success.

What are five simple things that I think about and that I encourage student, teachers to think about when embedding UDL into their instruction? Well, in UDL, we often talk about backwards design and using a backwards designing process, and we've broken it to five steps that you might follow. The five steps are step one, establish clear outcomes. Step two, anticipate the learner variability, but importantly, realize you're not gonna recognize all the variability that's out there. And in fact, you're not gonna understand much of the variability that's out there, so we have to embed flexibility in the way we teach and support learners in the design of the learning environment.

Step three is to develop measurable outcomes and assessment. And then step four is to actually develop the instructional experience and ensure that you have those multiple means of representation, engagement, action, expression built into those with your flexibility in mind. So many of you that have been teachers out there for a long time, and you haven't used a backwards design process, most teachers in schools of education will say, "Hey, start on maybe establish goals in step one, but then go to step two, which is design the learning experience, but the reality is there's a lot more that goes into designing for all students from the very beginning.

We have to think about that variability, we have to acknowledge the fact that we can't understand all the variability that's going on in our classrooms on a daily basis, but importantly, we have to establish those outcomes, we have to determine what we think this is gonna look like and be like after we do the instruction and then we provide for the instruction. And then probably one of the most critical steps that, and Irma kinda hit a little bit on this in teaching, in that she says Providing students feedback is critically important, but the other feedback that has to be provided is our own self-reflection because it's our own professional self-reflection of which we grow, in which helps us design better learning experiences for our learners. And so those are the five different steps that we use for planning for instruction. I'm gonna hand it over to my colleague, Sean.

Dr. Sean Smith:
Thanks, Jamie, and thanks Irma. Sean again, and I'm gonna move on here and try to build upon in an away Irma and Jamie have shared in respect to the science of reading when we think of a Spanish policies, fluency, vocabulary comprehension, and as Jamie mentioned with the framework, the framework can be utilized in a variety different ways, but one aspect of implementation of the three principles and the variety of guidelines and checkpoints is through technology.

And Jamie mentioned that and I wanna kinda offer some illustrations to that. So first of all, when I think of the innovations that are out there. And the innovations of course are just growing and they're growing tremendously, and many of us have users that are interacting with text, be it for reading, there is digital, and that's increasingly becoming more and more prevalent. Be it a Chromebook, an iPad, I think what, 60% or more of our students have some sort of access to a Chromebook, iPad, Windows machine, tablet, whatever it may be.

One of the benefits of the pandemic is that those investments of technology... And yes, I know working with some educators just last week talking about the fact that, yeah, these technologies are getting old though, and what's gonna happen with the replacement, but the point is, there are digital tools out there currently that give us access to text and changes the reading experience for our learners that we need to make certain that we're utilizing. That we are aware of, and of course, we utilize in a manner that the students can be empowered and have their own agency and reuse. Now with that, I have this visual up here to begin with, and many of us see this as the Matthew effect, but the blue and yellow squiggly lines and there's two different graphics.

I wanna emphasize those for a moment, and that is oftentimes what we find out and we see for our struggling learners, those identified with learning disabilities, those intellectual disabilities, et cetera. We find, and also individuals that just struggle, not identified. If they're not getting those core foundational components and they're not growing along with their peers, they will be a level of flatline and it's...

I look upon this as the red line or the pinkish line, that's the train that's moving along or the car moving along the highway, and our individuals that struggle, have left the train or left the car and to try to catch up to that moving train or car, which continues to go up, up up is very, very difficult and yes, we can utilize the framework, some planning elements, et cetera, but to me, this is where technology comes into play to give us that availability to that text in a variety of different ways. And so with that in mind, one of the reassuring... I'm not sure if it's reassuring, but reinforcing elements that tells us we may be thinking a little outside the box is our name scores showing us and these are relevant to reading, they haven't changed dramatically over the last 20 years. And so there's an effort here that we need to be thinking of in terms of technology, in terms of a solution to assist with the literacy, with the reading.

And so with that, I thought I'd mention a few, several that you are familiar with that reinforce that idea of multiple means of representation. That reinforces the availability that scaffolds that opens tools for strategy that Irma made reference to and Jamie made reference to in terms of elements of the guidelines and implementation. Now, the first one that many of us are familiar with is text-to-speech. And yet, although we're familiar with it, and although increasingly it's just simply an extension sitting on our Chrome browser or an app sitting on our iPad or in the Chromebook. Oftentimes, I'm seeing we're not turning it on or we're not utilizing it with all the flexibility and functionality it has, and of course, there's several different components out there, I'm gonna share Read Write. And Read Write offers the aspect of a number of different tools, including as you can see to play, to pause, the stop button, but also some color highlights and things that nature that allows us to better understand what's available when I'm actually looking for text-to-speech.

And for those that aren't familiar with text-to-speech with these tools is of course, every word will be highlighted, every paragraph, depend upon the user, and depend upon the tool you're using would be highlighted as well, but every word inside the highlight paragraph would be highlighted and read out loud, I can change the voice, I can change the speed, I can change a variety different things as I'm moving through. Now, for example, here's one in a Google Doc that's pulled up and the bar automatically appears, this happens to be in the Chrome browser, so this is where text help or Read Write is the actual extension. I can click on that extension, it pops down, so here it is popping down and then below it is the text that it would then read and that would be the Google Doc, and there's some good illustrations, there's some video that I'll link to in just a moment. That's available for you to take a look at your leisure and the webinar will make all the PowerPoint as well as the resources available as we go along. So this is a video I'd urge you to take a look at when you get a chance. And the video itself is...

There's a bitly, if you haven't used Bitlys, just needs to type in the upper case, it has to be upper case versus lower case. So, capital A capital SLD, et cetera. But this will take you to a video that offers you an example of... Okay, so now I have the text-to-speech, I have that, as you can see in that small screenshot there, I have the toolbar that pops up in my extensions when I'm in my Chrome browser. And this happens to be a Google Doc as well. And in this instances video will show you how you can use your highlighter and once you use your highlighter, it actually turns into a note-taking component. So my text-to-speech said Highlights, it says the text out loud, now can use a highlighter to highlight sections of text that maybe I understand, maybe it's the main idea, maybe it's the reinforcing elements of the plot, maybe they're reinforcing elements of the character, I pull those out and it will actually create its own Google Doc which will be its own note-taking component.

Now, Several of these text-to-speech applications will work with things like Cornell Notes. So as I'm highlighting through, it will take it over and move it into a Cornell Notes structure. So my text-to-speech tool, which is simply highlighting and reading text out loud, all of a sudden becomes a note-taking tool. Now if you're liking that, it gets better. ReadWrite also offers, as does a number of other text-to-speech applications, but ReadWrite is one of them. And here's another video. You can take a look at it at your leisure. There's a link via Bitly. And once you get to this PowerPoint, you can click on it directly. But this will show you how you can be reading a text, and this instance would be in a Google doc or it could be a Word doc, could be a webpage, and you can highlight it using the highlighting features. Those are those yellow, green, blue, purple, etc highlighting features. You highlight the word. And as that word is highlighted, it then creates its own Google doc. So I'm reading a website and I want to know what this word is and this word is. It will grab those words. It will bring it over to its own Google doc.

And the first column you see is the word. The second column is the definition. The third column is the visual. And the fourth column, those are notes for students to take. So all of a sudden, my text-to-speech application became a note-taking and also now a vocabulary component. So comprehension and vocabulary along with fluency in terms of the text-to-speech. So these tools are offering and opening up so much more to the user than simply being able to hear it and see it, which for some of our individuals is critical, particularly from the fluency standpoint. So a number of different text-to-speech tools do that.

Susan Hartz:
Again, I shared with you ReadWrite from Texthelp. Snap and Read also is a product of Texthelp. It used to be Don Johnston. But this will allow for dynamics text leveling. So as I'm going through, and first of all, this will also be great for some of those tools that are very much orientated towards PDF and images. And if you want to be able to see access to those where you may have a difficulty in terms of some text-to-speech readers, Snap and Read will read it out loud. And actually, I'm going to go ahead and give you a link to that in our chat to make sure you all see it. This is Snap and Read. But also Snap and Read will do dynamic leveling text.

Dr. Sean Smith:
So let's say they're using some complex words or words that just are not relevant to the reading and they could actually be simplified. They'll do dynamic text leveling automatically with a click of the button. They'll also offer, this is alignment to Cornell notes. So they also offer the Cornell notes component for study tools. So I can take this text, organize it, bring it into the Cornell notes structure, and it turns into a text-to-speech tool and a note-taking tool and leveling text. So it alters vocabulary all at once.

And again, Snap and Read, one of the reasons that Snap and Read is nice is those text documents that are more image-based, it offers a lot of flexibility of grabbing that and being able to use the text-to-speech. In addition to that, we have tools like Bookshare. Now, of course, Bookshare, many of us are probably very familiar with, but actually I find it being underutilized. Bookshare is free, free, free. If I have an individual with a reading challenge, I can fill out the paperwork right there online. And Bookshare allows me to then have access to 1.2 million plus digital texts that then I can immediately read out loud, text-to-speech. It has a tool built in, or I can use my ReadWrite, which I just shared a moment ago that's sitting on my Chrome extensions, or I can use another tool.

It's an app as well, but the beauty of it is this is what the US Department of Education funded for free for us to be able to utilize at school and at home. And the beautiful thing about this, and let me go ahead and give you a visual of this, is the fact that here's the tool at the very top. You can see how it has that little speaker, so it'll read it out loud, it'll highlight it. Now you may say, wait, it's highlighting the text already.

Well actually, this is a tool inside the Bookshare that's meant to help individuals better see, therefore understand, and therefore help with fluency and some comprehension, and there's some data suggests that, it'll help with comprehension with different colored text. And this is called a B-line, but it's sitting inside Bookshare. Now Bookshare itself will automatically open up the digital text, it'll structure it page by page. As you can see, the top arrows above, those arrows will go back and forth, so back page, forward page. That list there, it looks like a table of contents, that's exactly what it is. And then of course the speaker will do a text-to-speech as I go along. 1.2 million plus textbooks, books, essays, Puffin, William Shakespeare, you name it.
And if it's not there, you can request it, and within several months they'll have it posted up for you as well. Again, this is free for educators and families of struggling readers, as well as those identified with reading challenges, just to form and fill out. Now in addition to things like Bookshare, and there's a lot of other digital texts out there, but to me Bookshare, it's made for access, it's made for availability, and it's there for free. But there's other tools, like for example, Newsela. Now I love Newsela, I wish everyone was doing what Newsela is doing, and there's a link for Newsela on the chat. And Newsela offers the ability to basically take, Newsela offers so much, but the one thing I love about it, and it has several different components, one thing I want to highlight about it, it will take texts, current events, take texts that they've identified through other resources, I can see it, I can read it, I can use my text-to-speech tool, like ReadWrite and others, to read it out loud, highlight the words as I'm going along, but it'll change the reading level and the number of words.

Let me give you an example. So for example here, this is a recent one that appeared a couple of days ago, and something about pumpkins and Halloween, right? So what I have here, it came out of USA Today, and it has a text level of six with 525 words. Now Sean, what's the text level of six? Go to Newsela, it'll explain the different text levels and how it's organized. My example here though, is the fact that wordwise, 525 words. Well, with a click of a button, I would go up there where it says Max, and I would simply alter Max, and let me show you what I'm talking about. I'm going to bring it down to 420, so that's the lowest it will go with this tool in this page. Well, it just took me down from a text level of six, where that arrow is pointing, down to two. I've just changed four text levels, and wordwise, it was nearly 600 words. Now it's mid-400 words. So less words to read, less words overall, less to have to comprehend, and of course, the text level, they've altered some words as well to make it much more readable. So this is Newsela. There's others, The Smithsonian offers a tool that does this. I wish all our textbooks offered this, being able to change level text immediately. We're not there yet. The technology is there. The tools are there. We just haven't been able to get all our publishers to utilize that.

But to me, that's a game changer to be able to then use my text-to-speech reader. So now I can watch the words being read out loud to me, but less words and words more at my level, my goodness, that's going to help a lot of our readers that are not reading at grade level. So in addition, there's tools like Voice Dream Suite. Now this offers all sorts of different reading and audio modes, and almost everything I'm sharing offers lots of different options for the user to be able to utilize and select and modify. Now digital books are also one of my favorites. And digital books, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There's all sorts of apps out there, hundreds and hundreds of apps, Dr. Seuss apps, and you name it, where I can download and have access to a digital library of books. There's a tool, Allied Reading is another phenomenal place where you can get a lot of audiobooks and libraries of books, etc, etc. But what I also like are the digital books that we can create our own digital books. Now I have that hyperlink, so where it says digital books is hyperlinked. When you get this PowerPoint, click there, and you'll go to a list of I think 16 or 18 top educator-aligned digital books, many of them for free.
And what I love about digital books is the fact that I can create as an educator or as a parent, I can create my own book. So for example, Flat Stanley, very popular book, second and third grade, right? And for those of us have used in the past, and those of us have taught with it in the past, it becomes a several-month book, right? I introduce it, and then we create our own Flat Stanley's or Flat Nolan's or Flat Sean's. We send it out several months back, it's sent back. We have a poster we put up, we do a presentation about it, where it went, we show all the digital images it went with, et cetera, et cetera.

And if you're like, Flat Stanley, Sean, that's old time, we don't do that anymore. At least if you remember the example, the challenge is if I'm not at that reading level, if I'm a non-reader by the second or third grade, or I'm still struggling with reading, I'm having difficulty reading that book. And yet I'm going to do something for the next several months as an activity in relationship to that book. So you select the book if it's not Flat Stanley. Well, with digital books, I can recreate the book. I can bring it down to a reading level that would be appropriate for a variety of learners.

I can insert images wherever I want. I can insert video. I could insert my own audio. Of course, it's a digital book, so it's going to have text-to-speech as well. So those big-time books, those books that everyone's going to have to read, especially at the elementary level, I could create my own version. Yes, maybe I'll get a parent volunteer. Maybe I'll get a paraeducator to help me. Maybe I'll be chipping away at that over time. But the beauty of it is then that student has access and a variety of students have access to a very flexible book. Years ago, teachers were using PowerPoint. Now they're using all sorts of different digital books to provide that type of access.

And with it, so much more flexibility to the user. So in addition to digital books, there's tools like Tar Heel Reader. Now Tar Heel Reader is a digital book. It's available online. If you haven't been to Tar Heel Reader, folks, it has thousands of books. They're all image-based with simple text. This was created for non-readers. This was a resource created over a decade ago for non-readers. But the reality is a lot of early readers, a lot of elementary readers, even some middle secondary readers that are struggling readers are using this because it's every page is visual and text. So I have the text-to-speech, I have the visual representation, and there's a whole library, thousands of books that people have created, or you can create on your own to be able to facilitate this.

So there's a bunch of resources out there for your consideration. So this is just one example of many examples of digital books. And as I mentioned a moment ago, that hyperlink there, or that blue text digital books, that takes you to about 18 different resources on digital books educators love. In addition, there's a number of different resources out there for consideration for access or readability, decoding, and fluency, and overall comprehension. And this is just a tip of the iceberg, just a little bit to get us thinking about these tools that can help our struggling readers and those identified with disabilities, as well as just typical readers with some supports and tools that since a lot of that reading now is done in a digital format, why not utilize these supports that are embedded as extensions, sitting there as apps, and other tools within the actual reading support.

Now, the last thing I want to emphasize here, and I'll give you a couple of resources and then bring it back to our Everspring group, is the technologies that are really altering things. And for you elementary teachers, to me, middle school and secondary as well, but definitely for you elementary folks, you instructional coaches, or you speech and language pathologists, or you early childhood folks as well, Immersive Reader. Immersive Reader is really altering things. Microsoft is offering this for free. It's embedded within a lot of their tools. And in the process, they're offering a couple of different things.

So first of all, Immersive Reader, and there's a video there when you get a chance to take a look at it. It does the text-to-speech. It allows me different voices. It allows me different readability. It allows me different speed, etc. Etc. Just like any other text-to-speech tool. And there's another video that offers an illustration when you get a chance. And I thought I'd share these resources. It's embedded within the PowerPoint. You click and watch it at your leisure to better understand it, better appreciate it. But what they've also built into this Immersive Reader, which again, is a text-to-speech tool, change the volume, alter the, highlighting the words, alter the words being read, alter the line. So I could have a whole paragraph, but then having just the line itself highlighted and the rest of the paragraph being dull, so it's not there, so I can focus in on it. It can change the color of the text, change the color of the background, a host of things. But also they have the reading coach, which the reading coach allows the individual to read up to, I think it's five minutes.

It's recorded and then automatically scored. And then from that scoring, the tool will identify words you're challenged with, be able to practice with those words. And of course, the educator or the parent sees the data real time to then make decisions about what's most appropriate for that learner for next steps. So we're going into a stage now where automatically progress monitoring will be taking place with these reading tools that are giving us availability, but also data to consider to further support these individuals. Now I've also given you a few links to think about more about just general technologies that help with reading for struggling learners and those with disabilities.

And Jamie's just shared some great information. Thank you so much, Jamie, In the chat, Common Sense Educator offers a variety of different tools that are seen as struggling learners and those with disabilities in technology. And I mentioned Texthelp earlier. Texthelp is really a leader in this area and offers a lot of good resources, both in the reading and the writing. So I wanted to at least share that as an element. So with that, I think that's my time and I'll just moving on to the next slide and let someone else take it from there.

Susan Hartz:
Thank you, everybody, for presenting all that awesome information today. Just quickly here, this is a list of all of the programs available under KU's Department of Special Education. As you can see, all the programs with the one next to it means it's offered only online and all the programs with the two next to it only come in a graduate certificate. And then now we have time for one or two questions. Let me just go through questions that were submitted. So one question for you presenters is, with the growing presence of AI in the classroom, will the need to read eventually diminish?

Dr. Sean Smith:
I'll start and Jamie will finish. I know that, but you know, I think that question is, it's not the AI, the growth of all sorts of digital technology will be the need for reading diminish. Dave Eddyburn, a colleague of ours, has been saying this for years, but I'll let Jamie jump in on the AI.

Dr. James Basham:
Yeah, a lot of the work that we're currently doing is on AI and looking at how to appropriately use AI in the classroom. I definitely think it's going to impact the way we support literacy development, including reading. It's not going to diminish completely the need to be able to read, except reading overall is very multimodal and should be now. And we need to be thinking about what literacy means in the current world and what it means in the future. Will it completely diminish the need to read? No, it will not. Is it going to drastically impact how we support reading and how we support the development of reading? Yes, it definitely will. And One of the concerns that I guess we have and the work that we do in our research is there's not a really good way to ban AI in the classroom. I know many school districts have tried to do that, but the only way to do that is to go back to paper and pencil because AI is actually on our phones. It's right here in our hands all the time. And By going back to paper and pencil, we're actually making the world a lot more inaccessible for many people. And so That's something we have to consider.

Susan Hartz:
Very interesting. Thank you. All right. Then the last question we'll answer here. I have recently read about a model of reading that does not rely on separating students into ability groups. It says this practice has at best had mixed results in achievement and reading ability. I disagree with this as I feel a teacher must analyze students' weaknesses and diagnostically teach to different students' needs. Can you tell me your opinion on this?

Dr. Irma Brasseur-Hock:
Well, I appreciate the question because I think we are faced with how students are being brought together and trying to teach them how to read. We have many factors and variables that are impacting who gets to be in the classroom. Are we all going to be together and within that classroom are we separating? And it also depends on the levels. So Like I can see with elementary level where we do have the opportunity to do more ability grouping and doing stations, but as we move on and we have students with disabilities who are still not achieving and reading, we have different makeup of things.

So, I don't know if I have an absolute answer or opinion. I really believe we have to analyze the culture and the setup that we're faced with when we're in the districts to determine our best way to approach meeting the needs of those students. And I would agree with you that we really do need to understand where they are in order to determine how best to go about teaching and monitor that progress. Whether or not the instruction is incurring in a mixed group situation, which can occur, I mean, if we're using the lens that Jamie has provided for universal design, we can have a group of mixed students and still be teaching a key. For example, we could teach those students how to do prediction, but have a variety of different levels.

We can represent those things at different levels. So we could have a mixed group. There may be a point in time when students are so low that we have a middle schooler who still is struggling with phonics, that we may have to do some different groupings. So I don't know that I'm leaning one way or the other, but I do say that we have to have a list of things that we're looking at to determine what is best to fit the situation that you're in in your district, in your school, in your classroom. But Jamie and Sean, you got something to add?

Dr. James Basham:
I put my note in the sidebar there. I don't think it's necessarily critical to ability group students. It actually may have unintended consequences to segregate students into ability groups. And it is critical to teach the students strengths and to bridge those towards what their needs are. Unfortunately, I don't think most educators are prepared well enough in reading to understand all the diagnostic sort of testing that would need to take place and how to support that in a reading environment. My hope is that over time that's what's being built in effective teacher preparation environments, but that's not always what we see in the real world.

Dr. Sean Smith:
I'll offer one example in terms of where this is more of a tier-based support with my own son Nolan. I mentioned he has Down syndrome. Nolan received tier-based reading support, more tier two in a separate environment during middle and secondary settings. His reading dramatically increased due to that intervention while he was in the general education setting for his content he was receiving as an elective this tier two reading intervention. Without that tier two reading intervention he would not have been successful in the general education classroom which was increasingly becoming more relevant to discipline-specific reading. So and of course UDL framework being critical for him as well to be able to access but in that instance that could have been seen as separate but at the same time I think critical for his success if that offers a micro example.

Susan Hartz:
Thanks guys. And then any questions we did not get to, edWeb will make sure that they get answered for you and they'll, we'll reach out to those who didn't get their questions answered and then I know we're at time so we'll wrap it up here. Please keep in mind that slides will be sent to you so you'll be able to read through everything that was, that we went over today. Also, all the programs in at KU and the special education are take financial aid. So here's all the information needed, either through KU or Federal Student Aid Information Center, if you have any questions about utilizing that. And also, still taking applications for the spring deadline. That deadline is on December 15th. And those classes start on January 8th, 2024. Give one last big thank you to Dr. Irma Brasseur-Hock, Dr. James Basham, and Dr. Sean Smith for a great presentation today.