2001 Conference Proceedings

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ENHANCING ELECTRONIC LITERATURE FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH READING CHALLENGES

Renee Clark, Western Regional Manager
Freedom Scientific - Learning Systems Group
NASA Ames Moffett Complex, Bldg. 23
P.O. Box 215
1-888-223-3344
www.wynn.arkenstone.org

Summary:

This presentation will demonstrate how literature freely available on the Internet can be modified using WYNN software to address the needs of individuals with reading challenges.

There is an ever-increasing variety of educational materials and literature available on the Internet to students and educators.  While this information can be of great convenience to mainstream classroom teachers and their students, it can be an incredible resource to the special educator and the student who has difficulty with reading, especially with assistance from WYNN software.  Using actual websites, this presentation will address the added benefits of electronic information for all learners over information that is available only in print or audio cassette.  Information excerpted from the Internet will be used to show the flexibility of electronic information to enhance reading, writing, editing, and studying.  Using the WYNN software from Freedom Scientific, Inc., this electronic information will then be customized so that it better meets the educational goals of special educators and the information processing needs of people with reading challenges.  A variety of educationally sound study strategies will be demonstrated to assist with decoding specific words, address vocabulary development, and enhance the comprehension of the material.  Finally, a list of websites rich with educational material will be provided.

Information in electronic format has a variety of benefits over hard copy information. Electronic information can be easily modified, incorporated into other documents, searched, and manipulated in a variety of ways.  These benefits can be enjoyed by educators and students alike. An educator can take an electronic document and modify it or customize it to address a particular lesson or educational goal.  For example, instructions can be inserted directly in the text and provided to an entire classroom.   Questions can be imbedded throughout the document or added to the end of a document  Information can be excerpted to create a customized study guide.   Additionally, information can be obtained from a variety of sources and combined into a single document.  This information can be updated and easily modified as needed.  While this provides great benefits to all students, for a student with reading challenges, this opens the door to better reading, writing, studying, and comprehending. 

Using the WYNN software, electronic information gains a whole new level of flexibility in its ability to be modified and worked with.  Worksheets, excepts, even entire novels can be brought from the Internet into WYNN.  Once the information is in WYNN, it can be customized to address the information processing needs of a person with reading challenges.  Each individual student is able to access this information in whatever modality, or combination of modalities, will work best with their learning style.  Documents are presented in a bi-modal format, so that the information can be seen and heard simultaneously.  Information can be easily customized to meet the information processing style of each reader.  In addition, a variety of study strategies are built into WYNN that aid with comprehension and attention to specific details.  WYNN enables the reading process to become an active process, rather than a passive process, increasing attention and comprehension for students with reading challenges. Giving the individual this type of control over a complex reading environment can also increase self-confidence, which can reinforce reading and comprehension skills.


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Several tools are provided to enable a student to customize the reading environment so that they may experience success with and control over their reading.  With WYNN's easy-to-learn, easy-to-use interface, the reading environment can be tailored to the information processing style of the individual.  All of the tools to control the reading environment are readily available.  They are color-coded, grouped by similar function, and presented with a picture and word together.  A click of a button provides immediate response - no pull-down menus or complicated dialog boxes to navigate, creating a user interface that is inviting and easy to use.

The visual presentation of the text can be customized to address visual processing, tracking, and attention difficulties. Information that originally appears visually dense, run together, and generally unreadable can be modified with additional spacing, changes in text and/or background colors, and isolation of smaller chunks of text at one time.  Unlike with an audio cassette, the flow of information can be controlled by the reader, so that a person with severe auditory processing difficulties can move on only when they're ready.

Additionally, WYNN incorporates a variety of commonly used study strategies to increase comprehension. Vocabulary development, prioritizing key points, revisiting important concepts, and paraphrasing are easily accomplished using WYNN's built-in study strategies.  For example, once a novel is brought into WYNN, key points or vocabulary words can be highlighted and excerpted into a separate document for studying.  Specific educational goals of the special educator and student can be addressed. 

In this presentation, we will import a novel from the Internet into WYNN and customize it for specific learning styles.  We will employ WYNN's study strategies to demonstrate how comprehension of the material can be enhanced.  We will also import a worksheet from the Internet into WYNN and demonstrate how it can be modified to use with an entire classroom of learners with different needs.  Examples of how combinations of study strategies can be used to address specific learning styles and strengths will be provided.   We will take two powerful technologies, the Internet and WYNN, and demonstrate how they can be used together as a winning combination for educators and students alike.





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