Plano_RDSPD Staff Chat

Plano RDSPD Staff News - May 6, 2016

Where has the year gone?

Wow!!! It is already the end of the first week in May. It has been a busy year with Peer Review, the new ARC, and students. As you countdown the days, please take a moment to reflect on the progress your students have made since the beginning of the year. It is amazing the work you have done to help them achieve that growth. Thanks for all you do day in and day out for our students.

Teacher Appreciation Week

Plano RDSPD has the absolute best staff there is. I can not thank you enough for all you do. Keep up the fantastic work you do. It is appreciated by many.

It's not to late to sign up for the 5/7 Training

We will be meeting at the Administration Building in room 311 on Saturday from 8:15 - 4:30 for a great webinar with Dave Sindry. You will need your badge. There will be an hour lunch break and you can bring a lunch or run out for a quick lunch.

Email Ann if you have not already reserved a seat. We have open spots for tomorrow.

Dates to Know:

May 7 - Dave Sindrey webinar@ Admin.

May 18 @ 6:00 pm Optimist Speech Contest

May 19@ 6:30 Parent Meeting & Student Social - Pot Luck Dinner

June 3 - last day for students in PISD

July 5-8 - SEE

July 17 - 20 - Statewide Conference

Need PD hours for 6/6/16? If your principal is allowing PD hours ahead of time for that day, we are giving 1.5 hours credit for attending parent meetings.

Contact Ann to sign up to attend the Dave Sindrey webinar on 5/7 at Admin in room 311. You will get a full day while learning about listening and language. The title is Listen Back How Meaning Drives Listening and Language Success.


Just a quick reminder. Personal days require advanced approval. If you turn in a request, you can assume it is approved unless you hear back. We understand that emergencies happen, and may require time off. In that case, you need to call for approval at 972-977-9441 or 469 752-5583. Your team leaders need to know to get a sub or coverage, but they can not approved personal time.

Checkout This Opportunity for Your Students

Access thousands of electronic books through new app under ConnectED initiative

At $15-20 a pop, new books are often out of reach for millions of families with low incomes.

A new app called Open eBooks, part of the White House's ConnectED initiative, hopes to make more stories available to students in need by offering free access to $250 million worth of electronic books. Qualified educators can register and receive access codes for their students.

"We wanted to make sure that kids in need have the same access to these books that other kids have," said Becki Last, senior vice president of engagement at First Book, one of three nonprofits that partnered to develop the app.

Last acknowledged that not all families with low incomes have devices to use the app, but she said recent surveys show that a majority of those families do have access to smartphones and other mobile devices.

"That gave us a lot of hope," she said. "It's still a concern, but at the end of the day we wanted to make this available so that those kids who do have access to devices can have access to these books."

Qualified educators who work with students from families with low incomes or educators who work primarily with students with disabilities can get Open eBooks by registering for an account with First Book, Last said.

Follow these instructions to gain access:

1. Create an account at During the registration process, educators need to provide information about themselves, their school, and the demographic of the students they work with, Last said.

Examples of eligible users include teachers who work in Title I schools, programs that serve a student population that is at least 70 percent from families with low incomes, programs or teachers who work with military families, and programs or teachers who primarily serve students with disabilities. "Once you sign up, you have an account with Open eBooks as well as First Book, which provides free and low-cost books and other nonperishable resources," Last said.

2. Request, receive access codes for students. Once registered, an educator can request an unlimited number of access codes for her students, Last said. Students will need the codes to use the Open eBooks app. "You get an email with all the codes that you requested. In that email, there are also parent instructions in English and Spanish that you can print out and hand to each child's family to encourage parents to download the app at home," Last said. The access codes do not expire, she said.

Looking forward to expanding accessibility, enhancing UDL

The flexibility of digital text over printed text makes electronic books an appealing universal design solution, said Diana Petschauer, an assistive technology specialist with Assistive Technology for Education.

"When you think about all the different types of learners there are in a classroom, this is about using universal design to reach them," Petschauer said. "Having a digital version of a book offers more ways for students to receive information as opposed to only having the paper version."

When electronic books are fully accessible, they are particularly beneficial for students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, Petschauer said.

As it is now, however, Open eBooks is not fully accessible to students with disabilities, Petschauer said. She contacted the app developer regarding the lack of functioning text-to-speech features. "They responded in a timely manner that they're going to be making improvements to the app," she said.

Students with learning disabilities may benefit from having a read aloud feature built into electronic book apps, Petschauer said. Word highlighting is another feature that helps students follow along with the text and repeat words as they're read aloud, she said.

Open eBooks does include the OpenDyslexic font, which may help improve reading fluency for some individuals with dyslexia, Petschauer said. "Dyslexia affects everyone differently so having the font may not change things for everyone, but it's definitely a positive that it's available," she said.

Electronic books can also be an engaging way to capture students' interest in reading, she said. Some students gravitate more to technology, she said. "You always want to offer students other means of knowledge. This is another tool that can go in your toolbox."

See also:
· Amazon, blind federation reach agreement on accessibility (March 8)
· Learn to create accessible e-books for students (Oct. 26)
· Parent who is blind wins battle for access to online Seattle school resources (Sept. 28)

Jennifer Herseim covers Section 504, education technology, and Common Core issues related to special education for LRP Publications.

Links, Links, and more Links of helpful information:

Plano RDSPD Staff Google Site

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Our Mission is to serve students with auditory impairment by providing educational challenges and opportunities which empower them to become productive and independent individuals.