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Addressing Equity and Access in an Era of Social Distancing

Categories: Assistive Technology, Curriculum & Access, Education & Teaching

4 Tips for Promoting Equity and Access

Video Transcript: Betsy McGowan, Reading Specialist, Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School

Give students a choice

We are trying to provide a lot of student choice and just in every way emphasize like, letting them express their knowledge and mastery through different modes. So hopefully that can accommodate them. We've been trying to provide things in different formats, so we've used podcasts I think more than before.

We did a podcast on George Washington's chef, an enslaved man named Hercules, and it was such a hit with the kids. They loved exploring a text in that different format. That was one of our best lessons we've done so, and that was great because it provided an audio format to all the students in the grade, and I think everyone was really excited about it.

Model Technology

We have gone back to basics on modeling, in the simplest way. Just like that you know as intervention teachers we know we model everything, and I have kind of put that at the front I think of the grade team's mind.

So, even if it's something like copy and paste. Copy and paste…there's actually a lot to that. Kids who have computers and more tech in their households know it and we can assume that they know it. But not everyone does and so if you proceed if, you tell a kid to copy and paste the notes as an accommodation, like you give them the notes and you're like "copy and paste it" and you don't teach them how to do it with explicit modeling, then that actually might compound the inequities. So we're really working on modeling every single tech skill and slowing it down in that sense.

Leverage Speech to Text

We've taught all the kids to use the speech to text features which they may not have been able to use before. Maybe they've been taught once but they weren't, you know, working often enough in, on the computer to really practice it. So I think a lot of kids are taking notes with speech to text, which is exciting.

Empowering Students with Audiobooks

It just started with a couple of teachers using Learning Ally and it became a really good tool. Now everyone can access a full library of books. That was a real concern: How are kids for ELA classes going to keep doing their reading, their jotting, their reading logs? And this solved the problem for us and yeah, kids have been using it. Parents have expressed that they're really appreciative of it and it's definitely an equity tool at this time.