Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Web Spotlight: Tar Heel Reader

One of the biggest challenges parents and educators face in helping older struggling readers improve their literacy skills is finding appropriate reading material. Research shows that one of the ways struggling readers improve their skills is to read more text at their reading level. While they might benefit from the simplicity and text structure of books like Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle, most older struggling readers would be mortified to be caught reading such books. This challenge was addressed in a big way when Gary Bishop, Professor of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina and Karen Erickson, Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, took an idea and collaborate to create Tar Heel Reader. At last, a way to easily create books that consist of engaging pictures and easy to read text brought to you by Tar Heel Reader. Tar Heel Reader is a Web based FREE application that allows users to create and read books on a variety of topics. As of Augsut 5, 2009, 4,938 books have been created in 8 different languages and read by more than 1/2 million people from 109 different countries!

Content is driven by the people who use the site. Anyone can browse and read the ever growing collection. Books can be read aloud, downloaded, and used as a template to create your own version of a book. If you are interested in creating books, contact the Simon Technology Center at stc@pacer.org or the site manager at Tar Heel Reader at tarheelreader@cs.unc.edu for the invitation code. It's not a secret, they just don't want the spammers to get a hold of it. Visit Tar Heel Reader at http://www.tarheelreader.org.

Resources:
Children with Disabilities: Reading and Writing the Four Blocks Way by Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver

Reading with Franz - a You Tube Video created by aacstuff about using a switch in various positions to access books on Tar Heel Reader.

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