Sunday, January 5, 2014

Welcome Kara from Spedventures on Adapting Books

Let's give a warm welcome to Kara from Spedventures. I'd also like to apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused her! I had her post scheduled for the 5th at 6 a.m. Eastern Time. For whatever reason, it did not post. She has some awesome ideas on how to adapt books for your special learners!! Check it out!

Hi - I'm Kara from over at Spedventures and I'm excited to be guest blogging here today! Thank you to Tasha for this opportunity! For those not familiar with me and my blog, I teach middle-school aged students in a center-based special education school. My students have severe multiple impairments (cognitive and physical) - they range from moderately to severely cognitively impaired, and have a wide range of physical or other impairments, as well. We do a mixture of functional activities and pre-academic/academic activities in our classroom. Today I want to talk about some of the ways and reasons I adapt books for my students. We do a lot of teacher read-alouds to work on comprehension, listening and concept/content, as well as just for enjoyment! But there are also many times I want my kids' hands on the books, manipulating them and exploring the books for themselves, for a variety of purposes. Enter my adapted/interactive books! The first thing I do when I'm going to adapt a book is to take it apart and laminate it - it's all about durability! If you are not sure how to go about laminating a trade book, you can click the photo below of a "Cars" book I laminated to get the how-to. It's super easy! Just be sure to come back here to find out more :)
Laminating makes the pages more durable, and binding them with book rings or a binding machine helps the pages lay flat and stay open so they're more accessible to students with motor impairments. There's nothing like the frustration of getting a page turned, only to have the book shut on you because it won't stay open on its own!
The most simple way I make a book interactive is to make it into a matching activity. Below is a book in which students need to choose the correct icon to go with the subject on each page. I use Boardmaker icons (but you could use any clip art or photo, depending on your kids' levels), laminate and affix to the pages with velcro.
In this book, I placed the icons next to the illustration it corresponds to, so students merely match pictures - baker to baker, bus driver to bus driver, etc. There is one icon per page, so I can either offer just one at a time for errorless matching, or give the student every icon at the start of the book so they have to match from many, or a variation of that.
Different book, same concept - but this time the icon is placed by the text word, not the illustration. Of course, students still have the picture support, but in order for correct placement of their icon, they need to look for the written word to match it up. A little higher level skill for my pre-reader kiddos.
Some of my higher functioning kids are beginning to read some sight words.
In this book, there is a repeated sentence ("Dog is hot.") on about every other page. Prior to laminating this book, I typed that sentence with picture supports (via Boardmaker Plus) and taped it directly under the text in the book. My beginning readers can have more success reading this simple sentence with the picture supports included. You could also velcro it to the page so once students are able to read that sentence with the picture supports you can remove the supports and have them read just the plain text.
Another way I like to make books interactive is to get some content/concept practice in within the book.
This is a simple early science concept book that talks about adult and baby animals. Some of my students have IEP goals related to category/function and "wh" questions. So on each page, prior to laminating, I added a "wh" question related to the content on the page. Students now circle the correct picture answer with a dry erase marker.
Don't forget to utilize the glossary, index, table of contents, or other "extra" pages in books, too! On this photo glossary in the back of the above science book, students match adult animal icons to the baby animal photos.
I also like to have even non-verbal or limited-verbal students participate in read-alouds. This is particularly simple to do with books that have repeated lines or words. 
I record the repeated line ("Dog is hot.") onto a Big Mac or other voice output switch. Since I already have the picture-support version of the sentence in the book, I put that on the switch so the visual sentence is now the prompt to activate the switch. My students pass the switch around the group and take turns "reading" the sentence.
In this book, I am a bit more subtle with the prompting - the switch and the text look different. I simply outlined the repeated text in red Sharpie, so the students really have to be paying attention to the text in order to know when the repeated sentence is coming up. For the label on this switch, I just scanned the cover of the book, since the repeated sentence also happens to be the title. I keep the prompts/labels for the switch velcroed to the covers of the books so I can easily find them and change them for a different book.
Many of my students cannot focus on too much text (either written or verbal) at a time, so another way I adapt books is to simplify the text.
This is my simplified, picture-supported text for the first six pages of "Henry and Mudge and the Snowman Plan" by Cynthia Rylant. I haven't put this book together yet, but what I'll do is simply cut out the simplified sentences and tape them into the book. When I simplify text, I just re-word each page, leaving out unnecessary details and/or using more familiar vocabulary as needed, while still keeping the main ideas of the story/plot. Just enough so my lower-functioning students can follow along without becoming overwhelmed by "extras." And I pair it with picture supports so my higher students can begin to read some of the words.
I'll end with some general tips and tricks for adapting books:
-If you're laminating, the small "beginning reader" type books are best, as the pages will fit into a personal laminator.
-Look at your students' IEP goals for adapting ideas. Have a goal about number words? Adapt a counting book and have students match numerals to number words. Etc.
-Higher functioning students can "read" an adapted book to lower functioning students.
-You can scan pages or illustrations of books (or purchase two copies) for very concrete/beginning matching or visual discrimination activities.
-The sky is the limit, really. Just be sure you start with why you are adapting (rather than just adapting for adapting's sake). Do you want to make a book physically accessible to students with motor impairments? Do you want to make the text more understandable for lower-functioning students? Do you want to allow students to participate in reading the book? Do you want to improve comprehension? Do you want to use the book to work on certain concepts? Etc...
Thank you for reading - I'd love to hear more ideas or ways you adapt books in your classrooms! Thanks so much to Tasha for hosting me!

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