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Project ACCESS:

Accessing Curriculum Content for Special Education Students

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Content Area Literacy Strategies and
Potential Assistive Technology Applications

* Student Questions for Purposeful Reading (SQPR). This strategy helps students ask questions that are important to them before reading and learning. By doing so, students heighten anticipation and engage in more purposeful exploration of the topic as they search for answers to their questions. Mutlitmedia such as Intellipics Studio, Kidspiration (Page 1, Page 2)

* Anticipation Guides. This strategy involves giving students a list of statements about the topic to be studied and asking them to respond to them before reading and learning, and then again after reading and learning. Guides can activate prior knowledge of text topics and help students set purposes for reading and learning. Kidspiration, Multimedia such as Intellipics Studio (Pagele 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5)

* Text Impressions. This strategy helps students activate prior knowledge by developing an impression of what the forthcoming reading and lesson will cover. Students are presented with a list of words and phrases taken directly from the material to be covered and asked to create a text using the words. As students encounter the actual content they compare what they wrote with what they actual read or encounter. Word prediction (Co:Writer), text to speech word processors, alternate keyboards (Page 1, Page 2, Page 3)

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* Word Webs. Students create a graphic display of the interrelationships between key vocabulary and their own related associations. This strategy is useful for helping students activate relevant prior knowledge for content area topics. Kidspiration with voice (Page 1, Page 2)

* Study Guides. This strategy is used to help students' process content in an elaborative way. They are designed to stimulate students' thinking during reading and learning. Guides help students focus on important information and ideas and can be designed using novel and engaging response formats. Kidspiration, Intellitalk (Page 1, Page 2)

* Visualizing Text Structure. Subject area content is generally organized in fairly predictable ways. For example, topics in history is often presented using a cause/effect pattern. Students use pictures or clip art to create a visual display of how a text or content is organized. This strategy improves students' comprehension by improving their abilities to see relationships in text. Kidspiration, Intellipics Studio, other multimedia with digitized pictures

* Scrambled Paragraphs. Students are presented with paragraphs separated from the original text. They are asked to arrange the paragraphs in a logical way, then compare their arrangement with the original text. Practice with this strategy helps students become better able to perceive the interconnectedness of ideas. Intellitalk, alternate keyboards, Kurzweil scanning

* GISTING. This is an excellent strategy for helping students paraphrase and summarize information. Students are required to limit the gist of a paragraph to a set number of words. Individual sentences from a paragraph are presented one at a time while students create a gist that must contain only the set number of words. Kurzweil, Intellitalk, Intellipics Studio (Page 1)

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* Directed Reading/Thinking Activity (DRTA). This strategy capitalizes on the process of setting and confirming/disconfirming predictions as students read or encounter content. Students make predictions throughout exposure to the content and focus their attention on information that verifies or refutes their predictions. This process promotes engaged reading and thinking. Kurzweil

* Venn Diagrams. These simple interlocking circles can be used to promote close reading and focused listening and can be adapted to fit a variety of purposes. For example, students can use one circle to write what they already know about a topic. As they encounter information, they can write the new things they learn in the other circle. Where their prior knowledge and the presented information is the same, they can place that in the overlapping area of the circles. Kidspiration (Page 1)


* SPAWN. Each letter of this acronym stands for a category of writing or thinking prompts: special powers, problem solving, alternative viewpoints, what if?, and next. Students are given a new prompt to consider for each content area lesson and their responses can be written, discussed or represented in a creative way. Eventually students can use the acronym to generate their own prompts for one another. This is a great strategy for extending newly acquired knowledge. Intellipics Studio, Co:writer, text to speech and speech to text word processors.

* RAFT writing. This acronym is used to help guide students in the process of recalling and re-presenting information and ideas in a creative way. The letters stand for: role of the writer/presenter, audience, format, and topic/theme. Text to speech and speech to text word processors, concept maps

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* Storypath. This strategy is based on the assumption that all content has a narrative element. Students work together to design a "community" based on the events and issues they encounter in their content areas. For instance, during the study of the Dust Bowl, students create a shanty town and take on the personae of members of the town. Critical issues suggested by the content are introduced and the students must discuss and negotiate them. This is an outstanding strategy for making content memorable and personal while promoting critical thinking and problem solving skills. Intellipics studio and other multimedia applications; text to speech word processors

* Toss Terms. On the sides of a small box or soft spongy or airfilled ball key terms are written or attached. Students work in pairs or small groups to toss the box or ball back and forth. Whatever word faces the receiver s/he must define and/or put the term in a sentence. This strategy is a highly useful one for reinforcing visual exposure to words and reinforcing pronunciations and meanings. Intellitalk template system for sentence construction (Page 1, Page 2)

* Word Scavenger Hunts. Students are given a collection of content related terms and are asked to find visual examples of the terms from magazines, newspapers, and the computer. These visuals are placed on posterboard accompanied by the term and a brief definition. Scavenging for pictures that depict words is motivating for students and offers them an immediate context for newly learned vocabulary. Intellipics studio and other multimedia programs, digital camera applications (Page 1, Page 2)

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* Possible Sentences. This is a pre-reading strategy that prepares students for the technical and general vocabulary they will encounter in a reading assignment and helps develop their contextual understandings of words. Students are given key terms from the content and create sentences using the terms. As students encounter the actual content they compare the ways their words were used with the meanings of those words as used in context. Word prediction, text to speech, speed to text, multimedia (Page 1)

* Word Grids. This strategy helps students differentiate related vocabulary by critical features. In a grid, students write content related terms along the vertical dimension and key characteristics along the horizontal dimension. Words and characteristics are connected with checks or pluses, while those that are not related are given minuses or zeros. Kidspiration, Intellipics studio (Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6)

* KWL. In this acronym, each letter represents a column on a chart. Students fill in the K, or what the I know, column with statements that represent their prior knowledge for a content area topic. In the W, or what I want to learn, column students write statements and/or questions that they hope to discover or have answers to as they explore the content. And in the L, or what I learned, column students write statements related to the W column. This strategy helps students set purposes for and keeps them focused while reading and learning. Kidspiration (Page 1, Page 2)

* Split-Page Notetaking. Students are taught to create two columns on a sheet of paper or on a computer screen divided roughly into one-third/two-thirds. In the left, or one-third, column they learn to write the big ideas of the content. In the right, or two-thirds, column they write the supporting details. This strategy promotes critical thinking and listening, as well as paraphrasing and summarizing skills. The record created when finished can also be used by the student for study. Kurzweil, Intellitalk, speech to text word processors

* Concept Mapping. Concept maps are visual displays of the interrelatedness of key ideas and information. These can be hand-drawn or created on a computer screen. Students are encouraged to use drawings and clip art as well as lines and arrows to make content connections explicit. This strategy encourages logical and inferential thinking. Kidspiration (Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6)

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Home Page | Project Goals | Participants and Staff | Standards | Training | Lesson Plans | Assistive Tech | Resources | Contact Us

Kathleen S. Puckett, Ph.D., Project ACCESS Director, 419 Claxton Complex, Knoxville, TN 37996
Office: (865) 974-3435 | Department: (865) 974-3435 | Fax: (865) 974-8718
http://web.utk.edu/~access.html May 23, 2003 sskuda