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Increasing Equity & Access with the Chrome Read Aloud Extension

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As a Special Education teacher, I am always looking for technology that will help my students fully participate in all of the same opportunities as their general education peers.  When I began implementing the principles of Global Education in my 12:1 classroom, there was some surprise that I would attempt to do this type of work with students who have significant Speech and Language Impairments,  Learning Disabilities, Autism and ADHD.  However, with the right technology, substitutions can be made to help students access globalized resources (SAMR).

One resource that I find exceptionally helpful and flexible is the Chrome Read Aloud Extension.  The Chrome Read Aloud Extension can be downloaded on any laptop in which Google Chrome is being used.  Although my classroom has access to MacBook Airs, this extension is much more student friendly than the Voiceover and Text to Speech functions on Apple products.  The students do not need to recall any shortcuts  Since my students all have Google Accounts, the extension appears in all laptops they log onto and the icon is always in the same location.  The Read Aloud Extension also highlights the text as it reads, so students with print disabilities have a visual cue that helps them read along.     

How have we used this extension to promote equity and accessibility?  My students typically read 2-4 years below grade level but that doesn't mean their ideas and questions are 2-4 years below grade level.  Initially, we used the extension so students could listen to their own writing they had drafted on Google Docs.  This helped them to revise and edit their writing on their own or with a partner.  My students also used the extension to independently read and research.  For example, when my students were writing their articles for their Colombian Travel Magazine, they had trouble going back and rereading Rachel's field notes and journals about Colombia.  We eliminated this challenge by opening up the journal or field note on Google Chrome and having the students use the Read Aloud Extension to independently reread or listen to the journals or field notes.  This extension allowed me to confer with the students on their writing instead of rereading research to the students.  The Read Aloud Extension is a very student friendly tool that can be used to help all students access the resources and tools that support Global Education.

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