Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekly Reader Ablenet Edition

Recently I had an opportunity to sample Weekly Reader Ablenet Edition. Like News-2-You it is an adapted newsletter, however, unlike News-2-You it supports inclusion in that it goes along with the standard Weekly Reader that is mailed out 32 times a year to classrooms all over the country for the past 100+ years. This way students are doing the same topics with differentiationin instruction. Here is a sample.

Also like News-2-You you go online to download most of the content, however you do receive the regular, unadapted Weekly Readers in the mail each week (and an e-mail telling you when the adapted content is available).

The content of Ablenet Edition Weekly Reader is differentiated on three levels:
  1. The first level is very basic, for learners somewhere between cause and effect and emerging conceptual/linguistic knowledge. It has full literacy symbol report and the selections on the page are large and uncluttered.
  2. The second level is for students with some concept knowledge and working on beginning emerging literacy.
  3. The third level is for learners who need a high interest-low readability text (about mid first to late second grade level).
In addition you recieve a teacher's guide with lessons for sensory, literacy and "day-fillers" (okay they need a better name than "day-fillers", especially since the activities are not busy work and areapproproiate thematic activities - perhaps they could be renamed "thematic activities"). Themeatic activities include lessons for community based instruction, recipes, games, interviews, surveys, web links and more. If you want to view the themes for each weekly reader you can download them from Weekly Reader. It would be possible knowing the Weekly Reader themes ahead of time to plan your curriculum with the Weekly Reader topics as a base.

It appears as if the Weekly Reader Edition 2 (second grade) and the Weekly Reader Senior Edition are available from Ablenet, however most of the themes of the are the same across all of the elementary levels (K-3) so you should be able to use the Weekly Reader Edition 2 from Ablenet with any of the Weekly Reader elementary editions for inclusion. Use the link above to check the Edition 2 themes against other additions to be sure. The elementary edition comes our 32 times a year and the senior addition comes out 25 times a year.

Both News-2-You and Weekly Reader Ablenet Edition offer support for assistive technology and AAC. Ablenet comes with guidelines for using technology such as a Big Mac, a Step-by-Step, All Turn it Spinner, iTalk2, Power Link and a Super Talker with the Weekly Reader content. (I wish I had all of those things, just last week on of the teacher I mentor asked to borrow my All Turn It Spinner and i had to tell her that not only do I not have one, I have never had one. I don't have a Super Talker in the room either.) These guidlines are super for teachers new in the intensive field and have no idea what a switch is or what to do with it. The advantage that News-2-You has is the Classroom Suite Activties that can be downloaded for each newsletter. Here's hoping that Ablnet adds Clicker 5 or Boardmaker Plus, or even Classroom Suite support to their offerings.

Like News-2-You, Weekly Reader Ablnet Edition aligns to state standards and allows you to easily match standards to activties and take data for Alternative Assessment purposed. With so many similarities the major difference between Weekly Reader and News-2-You is the normalization and inclusion factor. I read Weekly Reader in elementary school, my elementary aged family members read Weekly Reader, Weekly Reader has been a staple in American schools for years and now our students can take part too. (Note: there has been some online banter on listservs that Weekly Reader is not available outside the USA, including in Canada. I would call and check before ordering outside of the USA.)

A word about the symbol support. Ablenet uses JupiterImages and News-2-You uses Symbol Stix. The free newspaper (UK based) ELive from Symbol World uses Widget Symbols. As far as I know there is not an adapted newsletter using Mayer-Johnson Picture Communication Symbols. On my wishlist is for someone, maybe Ablenet, to produce an adapted newspaper with Mayer-Johnson Picture Communication Symbols and Boardmaker Plus content.

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