Screen Reader Tech Activities: Thanksgiving Lesson Plan

How do you start teaching digital literacy skills to young students who are learning technology?  Memorizing a list of commands is B-O-R-I-N-G!

How about incorporating tech skills into activities using motivating poems?  Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so this post will focus on Thanksgiving poems; however, you can choose other holiday poems or any age-appropriate poems.  You can locate poems for various age groups on websites that provide educational materials without copyright concerns.  These activities will work with any tablet or computer and with any screen reader.  For these activities, I will be using an iPad running VoiceOver and will share the gesture, refreshable braille display (RBD) command and Bluetooth keyboard (BTK) command.

The poems used in this post are individually attached so that you can share them directly with your student.

Read and Pause Commands

Review the Read and Pause commands. 

 When the VoiceOver focus is at the beginning of the text:

  • Gesture: Initially start reading with a two finger swipe down, then a two finger, single tap (toggles between Read and Pause)
  • RBD: R Chord initially to begin reading, then P Chord (toggles between Read and Pause)
  • BTK: VO+A initially to begin reading, then Control (toggles between Read and Pause)

Ask the student to listen to the poem, pausing when you say, "Pause!" and continuing when you say, "Read!".  (Only say "Pause" and "Read" one time during the first reading of the poem.)

If the student is successful and ready for a challenge, ask the student to pause each time he/she hears a number.

Five Little Turkeys

Screen Reader Speed

Encourage your student to increase his/her listening speed by increasing the speed of the screen reader.  Listen the first time through at your student's normal listening speed.  Increase the speed (with VoiceOver, I typically increase the speed by 5).  Listen to the poem again.  Increase the speed again (with VoiceOver, increase the speed by an additional 5).  Listen to the poem again.  Now, decrease the speed one time (with VoiceOver, decrease by 5).  Listen once again - the student should now be able to clearly understand this poem at a slightly increased speed after listening to the poem these four times at various rates of speed.  Be sure to ask your student a couple comprehension questions, including a summary of the poem. With this poem, you can ask the student to listen for a particular color - such as, "What was yellow?" - before increasing the speed of the poem.

Teacher Hint:  Poems used for this activity should be one level below the student's current reading or listening speed.  Do not use materials that are too challenging for your student!

On the iPad with VoiceOver running, set the rotor to Speaking Rate, then increase or decrease the speed.

  • Gesture: With two fingers, twist until the rotor is set to Speaking Rate.  Flick up to increase the speed; flick down to decrease the speed.
  • RBD: Press 5+6 keys multiple times until the rotor is set to Speaking Rate.  Joystick up (or 3+space) to increase the speed; joystick down (or 6+space) to decrease the speed.
  • BTK: Press up+right arrows multiple times until the rotor is set to Speaking Rate.  Up arrow to increase the speed; down arrow to decrease the speed.

FYI:  This poem is often used with Thanksgiving bracelet making activity.  Use a pipe cleaner and add the corresponding color bead while reading the poem.  (Materials: pipe cleaner with white, blue, green, black, brown, red, yellow and orange beads. Use beads with different sizes, textures or shapes for students who are not able to identify the beads by color.)

Thanksgiving Poem

Now try listening to a new poem, such as Glad I'm Not a Turkey at the second speed (with VoiceOver that would be 5 above his/her normal listening speed).

Copy and Paste

This activity provides opportunities for your student to copy and paste multiple times as he/she creates his/her own original poem.  Ask the student to create a list of things that he/she is thankful for.  If your student is a beginner speller/keyboarder, then encourage the student to use dictation to create the list.  Make sure that each item in the list is on a separate line.

Copy and Paste commands

Use the rotor set to Edit, Select or Select All, Copy, and Paste.  (See iPad Curriculum for details on how to copy and paste.)

Once the text is selected:

  • Gesture: (rotor commands)
  • RBD: C chord (copy); V Chord (paste)
  • BTK: Cmd+C (copy); Cmd+V (paste)

For beginners or emerging readers, share a document with only the text, "I'm thankful for".  Copy and paste the text to a new document, and then have the student type, dictate or copy/paste a word from his list.  

If the student needs the activity modified further, provide only the one phrase on the page, so that the student can use the "Select All" option.  The student can Select All one time but paste the sentence multiple times.

For more advanced students, have him/her copy various sentences from the I'm Thankful poem template.

I'm Thankful

Navigating and Editing

Review the navigating and editing commands.  Remember, the easiest way to navigate to a desired location with the RBD is to use the routing button below and one to the right of the desired braille character.  (See iPad curriculum for details on how to navigate and edit a document.)

Use the Turkey Handprint Poem for this activity.

Read the poem.  Note that the "_" (underline) indicates where an answer should be placed.*  Read the word list at the bottom of the page. The words on this activity are in the correct order; however, for a more challenging activity, place the words in random order.  The student should navigate to the first word and copy/paste that word after the first underline OR the student can simply type/dictate the first word after the underline.

More advanced students may want to delete the underline after he/she has added the word.

*Ideally, recreate this document using a text box, such as Google Forms,where the student can type/paste the desired word directly into the sentence (without the "_").  (Unfortunately, I am currently not able to share a document with text fields in this post!)

The Turkey Handprint poem is often used as a part of a Thanksgiving craft project.  Each student can dip his/her hand in paint and then place his hand on a piece of construction paper or braille paper.  For a braille student, use thick paint or add texture - such as sand - to the paint so that the student will easily be able to feel his hand print. Once the paint is dry, add the printed and/or brailled text below the hand print.

Collage of Thanksgiving activities for screen reader tech