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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Reading Resource: Tar Heel Reader

A year or so ago I came across the website Tar Heel Reader. It was created by the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies and the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The purpose of the website was to address the needs of older students who don't have access to easy-to read, motivating, accessible, and age-appropriate text. Many users are now creating books for younger readers, but they continue to address the needs of the target audience of older students.

I initially used it with Kayla by searching for topics that would interest her in order to motivate her to read more. Then I would search for topics she was studying in school (i.e. weather unit). Some of the books are reviewed (by educators) for spelling, punctuation, grammar and if pictures used match the content of the book. Many books are not yet reviewed, but when you search for a subject you can search for "reviewed only" books to display. Eventually I requested a password so I could create my own books for Kayla based on the vocabulary and subject matter she was learning.

My first, and so far only, attempt at creating a book to help Kayla visualize vocabulary words: Native American Vocabulary.

I finally got around to sharing this site with Kayla's 4th grade gen ed teacher last year and she was more than happy to utilize this resource. She thought it was such a great resource that she shared it with the English Language Learners teacher to use with her students. Here is a collection of books Kayla's teacher made last year.

Before I had a chance to share the information with Kayla's new 5th grade gen ed teacher, her 4th grade teacher had already done so! Her 5th grade teacher has already created her first book for Kayla to use: Reconstruction.

When you are logged in you can save books in your "Favorites" so they are easy to find again.

Tar Heel Reader is accessible using multiple interfaces. Each book can be speech-enabled (choosing child, woman, or man for the voice), option to change the color of the page background and the text, download the book to powerpoint and epub and print out the slide show of the book. It's also available in other languages.

What a great resource to have and utilize for a child who is not reading on grade-level text and would find their textbooks overwhelming. Kayla has modified work and needs less information on each topic and this has helped her be successful in the classroom.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful site to use!! good for you Michelle!! I am also a visual person. it makes more sense to me when I can see something work, etc and than apply to what I am reading /learning. glad to know the 4th grade teacher gave information to Kayla's 5th grade teacher and she is applying for kayla and students. :]