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Using Technology to Mediate Learning for Every Student

New technologies offer us the opportunity to respond to the multifaceted individual differences in our student population by providing more varied media, tools, and methods." ~ David H. Rose & Anne Meyer, ASCD, 2002

The work of classroom teachers was impacted significantly by the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (2004) and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Those two legislative mandates formalized the need for teachers to do more than talk about meeting the needs of all their students; they were now being held accountable for providing an inclusive approach to teaching for each and every one of their students.

The good news is that teachers are not left on their own to handle the increased expectations that accompany those mandates. More than ever, assistive technology tools, many of them open source, are bridging the gap between diverse students needs and the teachers who will provide the scaffolding needed. By merging the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles with emerging technology tools, teachers are enabled to respond more effectively to the multitude of individual differences represented in their classroom.

Below are an array of online tools and resources specially designed to help teachers

  • improve how they relay information to students;
  • provide alternative ways for students to articulate their learning;
  • better individualize instruction; and
  • improve students motivation and interest in learning.


Using Technology to Support Diverse Learners
This Web site offers professional development materials that will help teachers support diverse learners. Be sure to check out the Tech Tips section for advice that will help teachers make full use of the software and other technology tools already in their classroom.

Teaching Every Child in a Digital Age
Read David Rose and Anne Meyers informative book online.

Getting to Know You -- The UDL Way
Want to find out what your learning strengths and challenges are? Try this online activity that promises to get you thinking about how your brain works, and how your unique strengths and challenges affect your willingness and ability to engage in different tasks."

Working Together: Computers and People with Learning Disabilities
This informative online video explains how computers can mediate learning for students with learning disabilities.


Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) UDL Lesson Builder
This interactive online tool helps teachers create or adapt lessons that increase access to learning for all students.

Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) UDL Book Builder
Heres another interactive online tool from the Center for Applied Special Technology. BookBuilder allows educators to create digital books that support reading instruction for children aged 310.

Tools from the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
This site lists a variety of tools designed to help teachers identify the strengths and weaknesses of their students, as well as tools to scaffold students to experience success in meeting curriculum standards.

This free download allows students to copy and paste a section of text into a reader that then reads the text back to the student. The program enables students to save text and return to listen to it at another time. The tool can be a helpful editing tool for students who tend to write incomplete thoughts or sentences that dont make sense." Listening to their writing can help students identify errors they missed when reading through a final draft. ReadPlease also can be a valuable studying tool. Hearing the content they need to remember helps students connect to the text via a different modality.

This free text-to-speech program can help those with reading difficulties use Microsoft Word more effectively. Learn how to use WordTalk by watching a brief TeacherTube video.

Natural Reader
Another text-to-speech program that converts written text to speech.

This interactive math resource is designed to help students understand how to solve word problems. Although its target audience is Grade 2-6, many middle-school math students can benefit from revisiting many of the same skills.

Talking Math Cards
This online math application site is not only invaluable for ESL students, but also will provide valuable learning opportunities for audio learners.

About the Author

Brenda Dyck is a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). In addition to teaching preservice teachers, Brenda is the moderator of MiddleTalk, a listserve sponsored by the National Middle School Association (NMSA). Her "HotLinks" column is a regular feature in NMSA's magazine, Middle Ground. Brenda also is a teacher-editor for MidLink magazine.

Author: Brenda Dyck
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