WorldView Software for Readers with Dyslexia

There are a few design features of WorldView Software’s social studies programs that make them ideal for learners with dyslexia.  We’ll go over them shortly, but first, let’s define what we mean by dyslexia.

In her seminal 1996 article in Scientific American, Dr. Sally Shaywitz defined dyslexia as a problem with language processing, not visual impairment:

[it is] a deficiency in the processing of the distinctive linguistic units, called phonemes, that make up all spoken and written words…The phonological model is consistent both with the clinical symptoms of dyslexia and with what neuroscientists know about brain organization and function.

According to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, some signs a reader might have dyslexia are the following:

    • Read slowly and with much effort
    • Are often the one to solve the problem
    • Can’t spell; have messy handwriting
    • Your writing shows terrific imagination
    • Have trouble remembering dates and names
    • Think out-of-the box, grasp the big picture
    • Have difficulty retrieving and pronouncing spoken words
    • Have excellent vocabulary and ideas

WorldView’s programs have features that can assist dyslexic learners.  First, all of our programs are visible in the web browser of your choice, which means that the reader can adjust the size of the font.  Compare a “normal” size — meaning the size I normally use — pictured here:

to the size the text becomes when it’s enlarged to 125% using CTRL+ (hit the CTRL key at the same time as the + key):

Second, as you can see from the previous screenshots, WorldView programs use a sans serif font for body text which is thought to be easier for people with dyslexia to read.  Third, our programs also use a colored background with a gentle gradient, which assists readers in keeping place when reading on screen.

Fourth, dyslexic readers often find that taking notes and composing writing assignments is also easier on a word processor or computer.  WorldView programs make that easy with our in-program guided essays and short answer questions. 

Finally, we include sound files with our chapter overviews, which allow readers to listen to the text as they read the written copy.  Just look for the sound buttons at the beginning of the section:

If you or your students have dyslexia and have suggestions on other ways to improve the presentation, please let us know in the comments!


BulbgraphOnOffClicking on an image in the overview brings up a larger image plus caption and credit information.


Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logohttp://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/

Resource Highlight: The CORE Project e-textbook

The CORE Project e-textbook is an online textbook in Economics for college students created by economists from all over the world.  It’s a bit advanced to use as the sole text for high school students, but teachers should be able to use this resource in many different ways.

John Cassidy in The New Yorker writes:
The project is a collaborative effort that emerged after the world financial crisis of 2008–9, and the ensuing Great Recession, when many students (and teachers) complained that existing textbooks didn’t do a good job of explaining what was happening. In many countries, groups of students demanded an overhaul in how economics was taught, with less emphasis on free-market doctrines and more emphasis on real-world problems.

Of course, that criticism doesn’t apply to WorldView Software’s Economics — we’ve had the comprehensive Tutorial: Global Financial Crisis for years!

page explains CMOs, includes graphic
A page from the WorldView Software “Economics” Tutorial: Global Financial Crisis

Push for Competency-based Learning Gets Pushback

Here’s something to think about: there’s almost no evidence showing online or the classroom equivalent, competency-based learning, to be effective….Both [studies] came to the same conclusion: the tech behind competency-based learning has advanced, but the concept itself has not benefited from these technical improvements and the educational outcome for students remain unimpressive.

Informative post by Seattle Education explaining the terms “competency-based education,” “virtual learning,” and “blended learning,” “personalized instruction” — and where the research on their effectiveness and the corporate funding of these reform initiatives part company.

Note: WorldView Software makes web-based digital textbooks, not teacher “replacements.”  And our interactivity is focused on Socratic learning, not on training students to respond to A.I.

Source:
24 Graduation Credits, OSPI Superintendent Chris Reykdal, and the Push for Competency-Based Learning

At the Intersection of Physical and Human Geography

Climate change requires us to think in new ways about how physical and human geographies intersect: how does the one impact the other?  How do human artifacts built for one set of circumstances react to the change in conditions?

Simon Dixon notes on Geography Directions:

We are undeniably living in the age of humankind, the “Anthropocene”, but we are still coming to terms with what this means for the planet and for ourselves. Researchers and policy makers have begun to consider the social and environmental impacts of our increased urbanisation. There are also efforts to understand the impact human activity is having on the surface of the earth more broadly – for example, through the creation of anthropogenic landforms like open-cast mines, and by changing erosion processes in rivers through human activity. However, so far there has been little attention paid to the way earth surface processes are slowly altering and morphing the fabric of our cities to create new, startling and potentially dangerous features.

As his blog post illustrates, using the subject of urban sinkholes, climate change is also a fruitful area of research for geographers and social scientists, because these processes are also happening at/impacting human artifacts and structures.  Remember the giant sinkhole in Japan late last year?

Hakataekimae Avenue near Hakata Station caved in on November 8, 2016, Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka, Japan. The sinkhole is filled with water. Wikimedia Commons user: Muyo took this photo at the rooftop of Hakata Station JR Hakata City. CCA-SA 4.0

As this post was being written, the nightmare of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey began to unfold, as did the unusually intense monsoon rains in South Asia.  As it affects literally millions of people simultaneously, these events are an even more powerful reminder that physical and human geography intersect in ways that are increasingly unfamiliar.

Houston is a very flat city, as is explained in WorldView Software’s World Geography Case Study: Human Migration: Texas.  Its prosperity has come from the way humans have modified this surface, with railroads, ship channels, and pavement.  However, this makes it prone to flooding when its bayous cannot empty into the Gulf of Mexico.  In a prophetic 2016 series, Pro Publica and the Texas Tribune teamed up to explain why Houston was going to be in dire straits sooner rather than later:

As millions have flocked to the metropolitan area in recent decades, local officials have largely snubbed stricter building regulations, allowing developers to pave over crucial acres of prairie land that once absorbed huge amounts of rainwater. That has led to an excess of floodwater during storms that chokes the city’s vast bayou network, drainage systems and two huge federally owned reservoirs, endangering many nearby homes…

This lack of zoning regulations is one of the factors that made Houston America’s fourth-largest city, attracting builders to the area.  But zoning and environmental planning can be useful in a disaster: see WorldView Software’s Civics and U.S. Government Project: Environmental Impact Statements.  As Ian Bogost writes in The Atlantic,

The natural system is very good at accepting rainfall. But when water hits pavement, it creates runoff immediately. That water has to go somewhere. So it flows wherever the grade takes it. To account for that runoff, people engineer systems to move the water away from where it is originally deposited, or to house it in situ, or even to reuse it. This process—the policy, planning, engineering, implementation, and maintenance of urban water systems—is called stormwater management.

On top of that, climate change enters into the picture when it raises the water temperature of the Gulf: higher temperatures make it easier for the air to contain more moisture and for storms to generate more power.  For example, precipitation totals have demonstrably risen the past several decades in the North Atlantic.

The intersection of geographies raises many questions that your students will have to answer in their lifetimes.  How would you deal with a disaster? Check out World Geography‘s Internet Project: The Devastation of Katrina for starting points on imagining yourself in a crisis.  Because the sooner we start imagining the unimaginable, the safer we can make our future.

[See this list compiled by The New York Times for reputable organizations if you want to help the Harvey victims.]


BulbgraphOnOffHelp ELL students acquire vocabulary by using the glossary’s audio files. Definitions + pronunciation = oral and textual word recognition.


Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logohttp://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/

Educators and Art Museums: Doing Social Studies Together

Participants noted that the museum’s collection of 18th-century American portraits could give students vivid visual reference points and a broader contextual understanding of Colonial America. They realized that the process of analyzing a Depression-era photograph as both a work of art and a primary source could help students practice critical and historical thinking skills. They got excited about works of socially conscious contemporary art, envisioning ways they could spark classroom conversations about global events and civic values.

Source: Educators and Art Museums: Doing Social Studies Together

[Post from Doing Social Studies on a partnership project dedicated to exploring how art museums can support humanities education in public schools.  The featured image is Cloud Box, 1966, Peter Alexander. Cast polyester resin. 9 5/8 x 9 5/8 x 9 5/8 in. Collection of Janis Horn and Leonard Feldman, Los Angeles. © Peter Alexander. Photo: Brian Forrest, from the online exhibition at the Getty Center: Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970

All WorldView Software titles have Art Gallery images with introductions and short-answer questions for investigating the connections between their subjects and the visual arts, in addition to projects where students make their own.]

The Top 5 Missed Opportunities

Want to get your class thinking critically about history and politics in hurry? Try this question from the wonderful, unscientific poll of readers of The Neighborhood, conducted by Kendall F. Person:

What is the greatest missed opportunity, that could have altered the reality of race, as our foremost identity, before the idea of identifying ourselves and seeing others as Americans first?

Click the link to see their answers.

Use Google to Tour the National Parks

To ease the transition back to school, you can pretend you’re still on vacation by using Google to “tour” the national parks through online exhibits.  These are artifacts from the parks that were curated in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, showcasing one object from every national park museum collection.

For example, check out the collections from Colorado’s national parks, with everything from hiking safety helmets from the 1970s to a projectile point from ~6,000 B.C.E.  There are also short descriptions of why the object was chosen for the centennial.

You can use these objects to get your students back into “historian” mode: why were these objects chosen? Are there other objects that would have been more appropriate? Can they make a convincing case for the alternative?  And more: what was the object’s context when it was made? When it was used? When it was found? Now?

And technically, this is a different part of Google altogether, but you could wind up your mini-vacation with a virtual stroll on the beach: Fire Island National Seashore (which has an object in the NY collection), via Google Maps Street View: