Chef Ruth Ziolkowski: Choices of Quiches and Literacy Toolbars
In our most recent CIZZLE, Ruth Ziolkowski from TextHelp and Don Johnston shared about the Literacy Toolbars designed to support learners with reading and writing support needs. Though supports, like read aloud, are becoming more common on publisher’s platforms, the benefit to toolbars, Ruth shares, is that they are always there, regardless of the platform. She compared this to always knowing where your measuring cups are in your kitchen.
Why Literacy Toolbars?
Each toolbar, either Read&Write or Don Johsnton’s Snap&Read and Co:Writer, provide support to students with the same reading skills (decoding, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary) and writing skills (using predictive text or speech-to-text). The toolbars allow students to support areas of weakness (vocabulary) and demonstrate areas of strength (comprehension).Ruth shares that these toolbars provide agency for our students who are able to use these tools to reach high expectations.
These toolbars help with executive functioning and working memory. Additionally, the tools within the toolbar provide a variety of supports for students with disabilities, and others who struggle with reading and writing. Predictive text, one of the tools in the literacy toolbar, provides a bank of word choices and aids in spelling, legibility, and grammar. Another is the text-to-speech tool which is a screen reader and can help with reading comprehension and the editing and revising process.
Another tool she discussed was uPar, a data tool, that shows a prediction model for learners. This tool helps students see where they are in the different areas of literacy and how they improve using the tools. UPar also identifies if students would benefit from a text-to-speech tool or a human reader. Want to try the paper version of the uPar assessment? It’s free on Don Johnston’s website.
The theme that continually came up in this CIZZLE is student agency. Student agency is providing students with voice and choice, as Dr. Chris Dede shared in his Research-to-Practice brief. Ways to support student agency in the classroom include providing opportunities where educators can build on how students interact with the learning environment, how students regulate what they learn, and what they themselves are interested in learning.
Ruth made crustless mini quiches because they can meet various needs like literacy toolbars. The base was a cup of heavy whipping cream (though any dairy or dairy alternate could work), 6 eggs, and some spices (she used salt, pepper, and red pepper). She whipped it up with a hand mixer. How does this relate to the literacy toolbar? Choices. She personalized her mini quiches to provide veggies, meat, and everything. Personalization allows for agency in our food choices and in our learning, as it is a critical component of the Universal Design for Learning Framework.
She related her baking vessel for the crustless quiches back to the literacy toolbars, talking about how she uses color-coded liners for each quiche to signal the type of quiche, just like the color-coding options within the toolbar. Color coding is a great way to categorize and provide visual cues.