Using song lyrics to improve fluency

Music reading

Reading fluency is the ability to read text quickly and accurately with expression and comprehension.  Reading fluently involves a reader’s ability to use multiple skills simultaneously. As a reader reads a text it is important that he/she is able to decode and comprehend  individual words, complete phrases and sentences that he/she encounters. When the reader has to stop at each word and spend time trying to pronounce it or determine its meaning it impacts their overall understanding of what they are reading.

Using song lyrics can help build fluency skills through repeated reading of familiar text that has a rhythm to it. Using song lyrics can be a motivating activity for reluctant readers who are struggling with reading fluency. Incorporating familiar or popular song lyrics can also help provide a confidence boost as they are reading what their peers are reading.

Read on to see how some teachers are using song lyrics to help build fluency skills with their students.

Reading Sage: Songs and Lyrics for Intermediate Students

Use Popular Music to Improve Reading and Inspire Writing

Using Music to Improve Reading: Close Up and Fluent!

Confessions of a Frazzled Teacher: Fluency Through Music




Virtual Hope Box for relaxation and stress relief

With end of the school year quickly advancing schedules will be changing for many of our students. For some testing schedules interrupt the daily norm and summer vacation leads to a change in routines. For some a conversation to prime them of the changes or a change schedule card can help alleviate the stress and anxiety related to these changes while others may need something more. Virtual Hope Box, by National Center for Telehealth & Technology, is a smartphone App that contains simple tools that can be individualized to promote coping, relaxation, distraction and positive thinking. Virtual Hope Box stores a variety of multimedia content specific to meeting the supportive needs of an individual. Some examples of things that might be added are family photos, videos and recorded messages from loved ones, music they find especially soothing, reminders of
previous successes, positive life experiences or other special interest materials. Virtual Hope Box provides options for positive activity planning, distraction tools, and interactive relaxation exercises, controlled breathing and muscle relaxation to help promote self-regulation. The App is free and can be used on an iPhone, iPad or Android device.

virtual hope box

Plan it, do it, check it off


When we think about Apps often the first thing that comes to mind is related to what games a person might have on their tablet or phone.  Apps however can be so much more than game based for individuals with disabilities. How often do you create a list before going to run an errand or write a to do list to insure you accomplish everything you need to get done in a day? For individuals with disabilities apps can provide access to technology to create supports to help them move towards being more independent. Plan it, do it, check it off is one such App.
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plan it do it check it off 2Plan it, do it, check it off  is an iPhone and iPad app that allows the user to build step-by-step photo and audio picture prompt sequences.


The individual using this app is provided with real photos to create a customized “To do”. The app contains a 26 page picture bank, with real picture images, that illustrate events but also allows the user to import their own photos and customize the text. As the individual completes an activity or task they tap the picture to place a check mark on the picture or play a prerecorded message to prompt  them. Another feature is the ability to create self-talk videos that can provide needed directions without having to be prompted by others. Plan it, do it, check it off is available for $4.99 in the iTunes App store.


Where can you use a QR code?

Using QR codes may seem like something of the past for some but it is an easy way to adapt activities.  QR codes are a wonderful tool that can be used across curriculum areas when preteaching concepts, providing opportunities to review material, build independence in accessing information and increasing student knowledge.  How might you use QR codes? How might QR codes work when setting up stations, creating scavenger hunts, making anchor charts, creating homework or assigning oral presentations?

Having access to a smart phone, tablet or iPad makes it easy to set up activities however you can also use your computer. If you have a computer with a webcam you can use a Google App such as ScanQR to allow your students to scan QR codes. Think about the possibilities of how you might use QR codes with your students.

Here are a few links to get you started:

QR Codes for the Whole Year

Audio stories for a whole year

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25 Fun Ways to Use QR Codes for Teaching and Learning                                 

qr code math  the cell qr codes  library qr


Create an Interactive Art Show

art showinteractive art show




Out of my Mind

Out of My Mind  by Sharon M. Draper, is an inspiring novel full of heartache and hope. Meet a girl whose voice you’ll never, ever forget. Eleven year old Melody, a brilliant young lady with a photographic memory, is considered by many to be mentally retarded because all her thoughts are trapped inside her own head. This impatient fifth-grader however refuses to let her cerebral palsy define her. Read how a someone who can’t talk, walk or write overcomes these challenges to prove that she is one of the smartest kids in the school. Follow her on her journey to find her voice with the help of those who believed in her. This engaging young adult novel includes guiding questions making it a great tool for starting conversations around disability awareness and assistive technology.   cover_server

Ollie and Cameron, communication is a roaring good time

 These two adorable twins, Ollie and Cameron, have a lot to share with each other.  Their mom has shared their journey beginning when  Ollie and Cameron were just two weeks old. It is their parents hope to help people realize that children born with Down Syndrome have the potential to live happy, fulfilled lives just like anyone else.



Newsela Bolsters Literacy in Science

Looking for a way to provide non-fiction articles on the same topic with reading levels from elementary to high school? Newsela is the answer. Newsela is a Chrome app that provides articles relevant to what is happening in the world today. A new addition to this great resource is the introduction of Newsela Science, leveled articles from Scientific American and other leading publications that are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). They have enlisted science teachers to help students make real-world connections and think critically about the content being presented to them. Using the binder feature it is easy to create a class to track assignments and progress on quizzes. When articles are assigned to the class, Newsela automatically delivers a version of the article appropriate for the grade level.

Find Newsela in the Chrome store

All-in -One-Visual-Support-Tool


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Creating and organizing the many visual supports used with students can at times be a daunting task. Tabi Jones-Wohleber however has created an All-in-one-Visual-Support Tool that helps to organize a variety of visuals compactly into a small 5”x8.5” binder. This nifty tool includes a First/Then board, a Personal Picture Schedule, and a Task Analysis Checklist, with a Finished Pocket on the front cover.  Each of these is easily available by flipping or opening the folded board, which is adhered to the Finished Pocket.  A Token Reward board is on the back cover. The picture symbols and tokens for all these tools are housed inside the binder on plastic tabbed dividers. The directions, complete with visual step by step directions for the All-in-One-Visual-Support-Tool can be found on the PrAACtical AAC website under the PrAACtical Thinking tab.

5th Annual Virtual TechKnowledgy Conference

5th annual Virtual TechKnowledgy Conference offers three consecutive days of inspiring webinars beginning with a keynote on November 10 by Therese Willcomm, Director of New Hampshire’s State Assistive Technology Program with the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire.  Dr. Willcomm, often referred to as the “MacGyver of AT,” will offer a fast-paced session demonstrating many creative, low-cost AT solutions. On November 11, you will not want to miss Dr. Joy Zabala’s webinar reminding us of the value of using the SETT Framework to make AT decisions. To close out the week on November 12, Chris Bugaj will entertain us and teach us about the many AT resources available through Twitter.  Join us for this full week of inspiring AT information!

Registration is available at the TechKnowledgy Conference website.