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/

Using Software for Credit Recovery

There is a wonderful multi-part series on Slate’s Schooled section called “The Big Shortcut” on the advantages and disadvantages of using software for credit recovery. The first story is here.  In a nutshell, there are real pros and cons to consider if your district is going to use software:

Pros

  • easy to implement for administrators
  • easy for students to use
  • flexible use of time and space is great for students with other obligations
  • students can learn basic facts and skills
  • allows focus on content rather than socializing

Cons

  • boring and isolating
  • easy for students to game and/or Google
  • easy for students to “pretest” out quickly
  • difficult for students who are not self-motivated or who need structure
  • shallow content emphasizing breadth instead of depth
  • shallow assessment (as in multiple choice assessments vs. essays, presentations, or products)
  • linear presentation of material does not allow exploration

The most successful curricula heavily involve teachers and the class looks more like a blended class than computer lab.  Students get the actual teaching that they need while proceeding in an environment that is an alternative to traditional classes.

Therefore, the questions to keep in mind about using software for credit recovery (and credit acceleration!) include the following:

  • do you have subject-area teachers available to monitor, assess, and give assistance and feedback?
  • in social studies, is the software consistently updated? (For example, WorldView programs were the social studies component of Edmentum’s Plato Courseware for many years, but their version is no longer updated by us.)
  • is there a discussion component (either virtual or IRL)?
  • does the software’s content comprehensively cover your state’s standards? Look for software that has made it through your state’s textbook adoption process, which is a higher standard.
  • are there options for different types of assessment (not just multiple choice questions)? WorldView programs have different levels of multiple choice questions (factual, conceptual, chronological, and image), guided and un-guided essays, short answer questions, and projects.
  • how much repetition/randomization do the multiple choice questions employ? How often can students retake the test? WorldView programs even have multiple testing options for multiple choice questions: Study Questions are Socratic, allowing students two tries and give a mini-lesson explanation for the answer.  Practice Tests allow the student one try.  And coming soon are Mastery Questions that contain different question stems, answers, and distractors.
  • how secure is your IT system? how much of the internet can students access from within the program? do they have access to their own devices?

And so on!  Are you a teacher, administrator, or home-schooler using software for credit recovery or acceleration? Let us know what issues you’ve discovered in the comments.


BulbgraphOnOffUse the answers to the “Questions for Thought” in the overview as a note-taking guided exercise.


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

Free Pilot for Canvas® Users!

If you’re a Canvas® LMS user, pilot one of our programs between now and the end of the semester for free!

With end of term testing just weeks away, WorldView is offering schools free unlimited access to one of our social studies products via Canvas® at no cost through the end of this school year.  Our interactive workbook-style programs can be used as your digital textbook, as a supplementary aid in class, as a test prep tool, or for credit recovery.

All WorldView titles can be seamlessly embedded into your on-line Canvas® courses utilizing a single sign-on.  Canvas® tracking remains fully operational.  Just contact WorldView for a Consumer key and Shared Secret of the title of your choosing.

Each student receives a personal account with access to the entire WorldView product.  Our comprehensive programs include hundreds of writing activities, thousands of test or study questions, and a plethora of resource material: biographies, chronologies, glossaries, original source documents, and much, much, more.

Visit our website, www.worldviewsoftware.com, for more information on all our social studies titles. (If you’re not a Canvas® user, contact us for a regular product preview.)


BulbgraphOnOffUse the answers to the “Questions for Thought” in the overview as a note-taking guided exercise.


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

WorldView Software and Canvas®

We are very pleased to announce that WorldView Software has been fully integrated with Canvas® from Instructure, Inc.!  Canvas® is an easy-to-use, cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that connects all the digital tools and resources teachers use into one simple place.

Use your Canvas® account to access our award-winning apps:

A screenshot of WorldView Software’s American History II program within the Canvas teacher’s edition.

You can now find us through the EduAppCenter, which is maintained by Canvas®.  We are also accessible from within Canvas® as an external app.  A consumer key and sharedsecret (password) are required for access.

Canvas® is the fastest-growing open online learning management system (LMS) in K-12 — it’s even been selected by North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction as a tool teachers throughout the state can use to collaborate. If you’re in NC, our programs World History A & B, American History I & II, and U.S. Government with Economics are fully correlated to state standards and have been approved for use as both textbooks and supplements.

Canvas® LMS + WorldView content = learning!


BulbgraphOnOffArt images are a great way to introduce units: use them to generate questions on all sorts of topics!


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

 

Top Ten Posts in 2016

These were the posts on WorldView Software’s blog that were most popular over the past year:

  1. Home page / Archives – See the latest post here
  2. American Ancestry in Maps – there are LOTS of people with German ancestry
  3. Transgender People in History – definitions, historical examples, and more
  4. The Museum of Lost Objects – documenting antiquities lost to war
  5. How Do Polls Work? – when is a poll a valid measure of public opinion?
  6. Economic Indicators – non-traditional indicators of economic well-being (or not)
  7. Phases of the Moon – why we keep track of the moon
  8. Could You Come up with $1,000 for an Emergency? – a personal financial literacy issue
  9. Secular Homeschoolers – why WorldView’s materials are a good fit
  10. Using Pokémon Go to Teach Local History – how to work the fad into your lesson planning

Have a happy new year, and thanks for reading!


BulbgraphOnOffAlmost any current browser can be used with WorldView Software, making it accessible from a wide range of devices.


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

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are freely available, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing.  OERs are part of the movement for open access to code, data, and information, and have the power to revolutionize how you teach.

If you’re new to OERs, a really great starter kit explaining the concept has been assembled by the folks at Edutopia, available here.  They go over the terms used in OER discussions, such as explaining what “creative commons” licensing is, and introduce resource collections.  More resources are also available from OERCommons and from the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER).

While WorldView Software’s programs are not OERs (they are copyrighted), they are still free to preview, which means that teachers can access the material — which is up-to-date, written by content-area experts, and has been correlated to state and national standards in social studies — and use it in the classroom or assign it individually to students.  Because it’s software, it’s able to handle much more content than a regular print textbook, yet flexible enough to use as workbook for practice or enrichment.

Our business model depends on the value we add; where we make our money is from the ability to save responses (including computer-graded assessments) and to run reports on those responses, including aggregate reports for your class.  This “back-office” action allows you to spend more time on customizing instruction for each student, reflecting on your own teaching process as you interpret the aggregate reports, and on deep research.

One other note: the more OERs you use, the more bandwidth you’ll need.  If your school, library, or consortium doesn’t already apply for the e-rate for schools and libraries, definitely put the application deadline on the calendar for next year!


BulbgraphOnOffConceptual questions test students’ ability to use their knowledge of the material in analysis, such as making inferences and evaluations.


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

Teaching History via the Case Method

Have you ever used the case method to teach history?  If not, you may be wondering what it is.  Based on the Harvard Business School case studies of issues that businesses face, it is an immersive way of studying a moment in time.

According to Christine Gross-Loh writing at The Atlantic:

The case method goes beyond historical skills and factual content; it aims to hone decision-making skills. Each case is a concentrated story about a specific episode in history. … It’s not until after they have fully discussed the case that the historical outcome is revealed to them.

The goal is a lively class discussion of options.  The suspense helps feed class participation, and the story-telling qualities help kids put facts in context.  And by using this method more than once, kids get practice in decision-making — helping them to develop judgment.

And that, in turn, helps foster democratic values.  One teacher quoted in the article put it like this: democracy “is not a machine built to specification.”  By experiencing its complexity, students train the skills they’ll need as adults.

If you’re interested in using the case study method in your classroom, you can refer to the teachers in the article, or you can develop your own.  Harvard Business School defines a case as

A case is a description of a management situation. Most cases range in length from two to twenty-five pages of text and exhibits; the latter often present quantitative material. So-called field cases are largely based on data provided by the organization that is the focus of the case. Library cases are drawn from published material in the public domain. A case is not written to illustrate correct or incorrect handling of an administrative situation, nor is there an editorial bias that implies a particular conclusion.

With that definition in mind, create a case study on something you’ve been studying this semester.  And remember, you can always use WorldView Software’s line of programs as a starting point for your research!


BulbgraphOnOffClicking on a hyperlinked person’s name brings up their biography. For example, Document: Gettysburg Address in American History I links to Lincoln’s bio.