Top Tech Tools for Equity and Accessibility
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This is the Ten Minute Teacher Podcast with your host Vicki Davis. Extended Episode number 780 – Top Tech Tools for Equity and Accessibility.
Readlee: An Amazing Literacy Tool – Show Sponsor
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Today’s Sponsor is Readlee, an amazing literacy tool developed in collaboration with researchers at the Harvard School of Education. Stay tuned at the end of the show to get a free account for you and your students.
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Introduction to Top Tech Tools for Equity and Accessibility
Today, we’re talking about Top Tech Tools that every teacher needs to use for Equity and Accessibility.
And we have two people who travel the country and talk about this critical topic. They work together and talk about this a lot, and they each have a reason. They’re so passionate about this topic. So first, I need to introduce Teresa Magpayo Castro.
Your district. Teresa is near l.a, but not quite so. Tell us a bit about why you are so passionate about teachers using tools that help things be accessible for all students? Tell us a little of your story.
Teresa’s Story: Misunderstood
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
Thank you for that introduction. We serve such a diverse population of students in our district close to Los Angeles, and we need these tools. But I think it hits home for me because I grew up as an ESL student, and I experienced firsthand the struggles of not being able to participate in my education, and my parents had that struggle as well. And I remember my first year in the education system; my teachers thought I was mute; they thought I couldn’t speak. And my mom was like, No, she talks a lot.
But it wasn’t because I couldn’t speak. It’s because I wasn’t confident enough to participate and understand. And I was quiet. So it’s very easy to overlook me. So and these are tools that I think would have made such a difference to me. I know they would make a big difference for our students today.
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So how did that make you feel as a young student, Teresa? Do you mind sharing what grade you were in when you first experienced the struggle?
I Wasn’t Quiet; I Was Scared
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
I was in kindergarten, so they thought I literally didn’t have a voice the whole year. I was afraid to speak because I was learning the words here and there. But I was worried I wouldn’t say it right. And I was afraid I didn’t understand correctly. And I think years beyond that, I still struggled with my confidence in school, and teachers very easily overlooked me. So I was just so quiet, you know, they thought I was just a shy kid, which wasn’t the case. I was just scared.
Introduction of Ricardo Recinos
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That’s excellent that you have that passion because it makes you want to dig in and find tools to reach the kids. The other Teresas that are out there today. Okay. So and then, Teresa, you have been teaching for 19 years, and Ricardo Recinos is who we will talk to now, who also works with you.
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Ricardo, you’ve been teaching for 22 years, is that right?
And working in coaching teachers is what you also do. So tell us a bit of your story and why you’re passionate about this topic.
Ricardo Recinos’ Story
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Sure, first, thank you for having us here. I’m also a former ESL student. I honestly have to say that my passion is always trying to make all elements of education accessible to all students, regardless of the barrier. And in this case, for me, it was language.
I came from El Salvador when I was 15 years old, escaping the civil war in El Salvador. I remember my mom used to hide me and not go to school because you had the military coming to recruit kids out of our school to have them fight, you know, against the other side.
So I came to East Los Angeles and went to Garfield High School, and I still remember going on my first day and being given a placement test in English. I couldn’t understand anything. And I did horrible. And I remember my high school counselor going, “Pobre niño él no sabe nada.” you know, to this day, I remember “poor kid, he doesn’t know anything”. And I was placed in remedial classes.
Ricardo Was a Student of Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutiérrez from “Stand and Deliver”
I was forgotten until there was this particular teacher and you might have heard of him. His name is Jaime Escalante. There was a famous movie made Stand and Deliver about him.
He came into my homeroom. He gave me a math test that I can just do it in my own language. And I was able to prove that just because I didn’t speak the language, it didn’t mean that I didn’t understand math.
And all of a sudden I’m taking Algebra 2, I’m taking Calculus. You know, I start doing well in classes and showing that I can. I’m lucky enough to go to USC on a full scholarship and then, you know, become a teacher.
And then I think, you know, just being in front of my teacher and my students nowadays, that is like the way that I can show that we can, you know, we can all do it.
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Oh, Ricardo, you’re one of the his students!
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I was one of his students!
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So when you said that, I was like, “yes, I have. I have seen that.” And, oh, I feel like I’m talking to somebody famous. What a remarkable educator! And now you’re in education and you’re paying it forward in this way.
Relate to Educate
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So let’s dig into the tools that every teacher needs to know. And I think the first thing we have to understand is we have to relate to educate. It’s about relationships that every child is a masterpiece, every child is important, every child is unique.
And we have to be really careful not to put labels on children in the way that you both experienced. And that’s why I do this show. It’s about the children and really reaching those kids. So, Teresa, let’s start with some of those tools you talked about that you wish were out when you were a child.
Top Tool #1: PowerPoint Subtitles
(Mentioned) Google slides with Captions
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
Absolutely. And we have so many tools we wanted to share. But because of time limitations, you know, we chose few of our favorites and the best of the best tools out there. So we wanted to start with PowerPoint subtitles.
I believe Ricardo was going to start with that one.
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Sure. So, you know, I’ve seen a lot of teachers use Google slides and use the caption component for students to be able to follow along in English. But then I was introduced to Microsoft PowerPoint subtitles where I can actually set it up, in which I’m talking in English.
And my students have seen the subtitle in real time in Spanish or in Mandarin or in whatever language I choose. And it’s real time. And what I love about it is that he uses artificial intelligence to read my PowerPoint deck, to understand the content, and to put it in context when I speak.
And it does that in the way in which he uses real life language. So as a Spanish teacher, I can tell you that that the translations, the subtitles are really, really well done.
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That’s excellent to know and understand. You didn’t have a learning curve when you swapped over to PowerPoint slides in using that translate feature?
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I did not. I was just taking my my slides, turning them into a PowerPoint, then pressing a button and selecting English as the language I was speaking and selecting Spanish or whatever language I wanted the subtitles to be on.
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And if it’s accurate, you know, because, you know, as we know, some haven’t been very accurate. So, Teresa, are you next?
Top Tool #2: PowerPoint Live
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
Yes, I am. And so I’m going to kind of piggyback off of what Ricardo was talking about. So PowerPoint subtitles, you’re able to follow along in one language. So just imagine your students be able to read along as you are giving your lecture or giving your lesson.
And think of also those parent nights where you have families coming in from different languages who are following along. So you would choose your primary language on there. Most of your parents understand, but what about those parents who are different languages now?
You have a room with maybe three or four or five even more different languages. How do you give them access to what information you’re trying to share? Now we move on to something called PowerPoint Live. So it takes what he did, but adds another layer to it.
So, yes, you could have the subtitles at the bottom of your presentation, but now the parent can follow along in their own device with a language of their choice. So now you’re giving an infinite number of languages in different parents.
I’m access to what you are trying to to give them. So PowerPoint Live is very powerful in that way where they can follow along in the language of their choice.
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Wow, that’s excellent. What’s next?
Top Tool #3: Microsoft Translator – Web Version
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
So with PowerPoint Live and PowerPoint subtitles, that’s more of us giving the information to the parents and the students receiving the information. But now we take it a step further. How about two way communication? We want to be able to understand them as well.
So here is where Microsoft Translator the web version actually comes in, where you can continue to provide the instruction that you need, but they can react to you as well. They can speak to you from their language and you could see it in your links.
So now here we are having a two way conversation with someone you wouldn’t have been able to communicate with at all without these tools.
Microsoft Translator Can Also Translate Text
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Yeah, you know, I actually saw a principal using that, and it was amazing to see that we had a couple of parents that did not know how to read. I mean, we don’t think about that, right? So this Microsoft Translate Web version allows the parent to select their language and actually l
isten to it.
They can put their headphones on. And Teresa could be speaking in English. And when I’m picking this up, I actually hear a voice in my own language, able to understand what they’re saying. And I can come and actually ask the question in my language, and Teresa will get it and the language that she’s speaking.
And now we have the two-way communication in which a group of Mandarin parents over there are being part of the conversation. A group of people that are speaking Spanish only are part of the conversation. And now we have a whole conversation between all of us.
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That is astounding. Like they use it the in or other places. I mean, that’s what it feels like that we can truly communicate and break down these barriers. What a gift it is. It sounds like a lot of folks went home during the pandemic and tried to fix some of our problems, doesn’t it?
Microsoft Translator on the Phone Takes PTA Meetings and Parent Teacher Meetings to the Next Level
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PTA Meetings. Yes. Web based and completely free. It’s just such a great tool, but it costs a little bit more than just the web. You also have the ability to take it on your phone. If you have an iOS device or Android device and download the Microsoft Translator app, which takes it to a different level, you have the ability to do the same thing. The principal just put it on his pocket during the PTA meeting. He’s speaking in English and everybody else is following on the language of their choice.
Parent Teacher Conferences. But I’ve also seen it with the app during parent conference where the teacher can split the screen of the phone and he is speaking in English and the parent can hear it on their own language and the parent pressing the button. He’s speaking Spanish and the teacher is listening to in English, and now they’re going back and forward talking about how the student is doing in class using this app.
Homework Help for Parents. At the same time, I think about my mother and not being able to help me with homework when I was a student and bringing stuff in English that she didn’t understand. Right. This app allows you to just take any paper in any language, take a picture of it, and it will superimpose in the language of choice.
So you have something in English, you take a picture and all of a sudden everything you want to see, it’s in the language that you chose. So just such a great tool to have in your hands.
How a Parent Teacher Conference Works with Microsoft Translator App On Your Phone
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You know, I had a parent teacher conference just a couple months ago and the mother could could understand English very well, was very uncomfortable expressing herself in English. So if I wanted to use that, I would get. The app, I would get it on my phone.
And then would we have to have some sort of headphone splitter or how can we each list and how does that work?
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It’s amazing. It just splits the screen in two. I press the button and I say what I want to say pass. And the parent listens to it under language of choice of the spoke Spanish and they select the Spanish they listen to in Spanish, then they press.
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So just on the speaker?
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They press the button and now they ask a question in Spanish and the teacher listens to it in English. They keep going back and forth.
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Mm hmm. What a gift! Like, I’m just sitting here thinking, oh, what that could have done for that conference. Okay, what’s next? I’m excited.
Top Tool #4: Microsoft One Note Live Captions
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So along with that, we’ve seen that our students are using OneNote, also a Microsoft tool. And what they’re doing is that teacher is using, again, that Microsoft Translator on the web or on the or the app, basically. And the students can actually take that code that the teacher provides.
They put it on their OneNote notebook. And now there’s that transcription of whatever the teacher is saying. They have it right in front of them in their own language. They can pause it. The teacher continues to speak, they can presume, and they’ll be able to see everything that teacher was saying.
They can highlight. They can take notes. They can go back and look at it. And when they are done, when the teacher finishes the lecture, they can stop and have a whole transcription of what was being said and be able to go back and actually revisit what was being done.
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Live turns your transcription into OneNote?
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Into OneNote on the spot!
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Oh my goodness. I’ve got some things just. I did not know that I am so. Wow. Okay.
Note: See Also Group Transcribe for Meetings. I was digging as a result of this podcast and there are many ways you can use the transcriptions.
TIP: Teach Students and Parents to Download the Transcript from Microsoft Translator
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
And on top of that, we did mention Microsoft Translator on the Web and also the app. There’s also the option for
them to download the transcript as well. So as soon as you end, the parents or the students are given the option, do you want a transcript of this conversation?
They can click it and now they have a transcript of the whole thing. If you’ve ever experienced going to a back-to-school night and what did you say? I don’t remember. So now you have a whole transcript of the conversation in your language of choice.
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Wow. I love this. Okay. You’ve already blown my mind and just shared some things that we really need. Is there anything else that you want to share?
Top Tool #5 Microsoft Immersive Reader
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Sure. I think we focus a lot on speaking. And I know when we talk about some of these apps, we know that it’s not a solution, but it’s a form of support. And we think about reading. I know if I pro has something called Immersive Reader when I was in school, it would have just been incredible.
Immersive Reader. It’s not a screen reader, but it’s a reading enhancement tool that allows me. And there’s also this research behind it with proven techniques or how you can help understand and read. So basically what it does, it takes all of distractions away.
I can choose to say I want to see the verbs and read the adjectives in green, the others in blue. I can make the words bigger. I can actually have a picture dictionary right in front of me. And the most important tool for me, I can actually click a button and now have the same text in English
in my own language, and I can compare as I’m learning the new language. I can have both of them right in front of me. I can have it read to me. I can have I can listen to it, I can slow it down.
Just a great tool that I would have been able to used when I was in school, I think. Immersive reader.
Equitable Access to Material
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
Absolutely. And you know what I think Immersive reader and of course, I think for students who are struggling with language, but also our emergent readers, our struggling readers, it’s just such an amazing tool to provide that. Equitable access to all of our material for all of our students.
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
And I’ve even seen teachers use it in the beginning to help translate their communication that they sent home. Because I know usually teachers, we run around looking for someone to help us translate something and sometimes we can’t always find somebody.
Top Tool #5: Reading Progress
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
So these tools, all of the tools we mentioned help so much with that. But as we’re talking about reading and helping in that way, there’s also something called Reading Progress.
When I saw this, when Ricardo introduced it to me, it blew my mind. If you’ve never heard of Reading Progress, and I know Ricardo will share from his point of view being a Spanish teacher and being a high school teacher.
But from my point of view, being an elementary teacher, reading progress is amazing if you’ve never heard of it. If you remember sitting there one on one with your students, listening to them read and crossing off, if they got words right and wrong and trying to go back to that data and figure out how to help them
Reading Progress does that for you. All you have to do is provide them the passage online and they record your students reading and it goes through and checks off their mistakes. It tells you the rate it gives you is so much data and it took a matter of not even a minute.
You could have your whole class do it. At the same time they just put headsets on and the whole class will get it and then you’ll have your data instantaneously instead of taking a whole day to do that.
So now you can actually provide the feedback that they need right away.
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Is that a website or an app?
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Or it actually works through Microsoft teams and you can use it. And the Microsoft Team app, you can use it on the Web, you can use it in many different places. But what I love is what Teresa said.
That is support students and building fluency through independent practice. The teacher doesn’t have to do anything once you set it up. I know it’s a Spanish teacher. I actually have my students practice Spanish using reading progress and they can actually go in there and do it on their own.
In the past, it was impossible for me to have 40 students read and I can work on their fluency, on their own time and the data that it gives you, the insight that it gives you. And if you’ve been following and reading progress, there’s something to ask me now called Reading Coach that is going to go along with that. So yeah, that’s a whole different story, but just incredible.
Can you do these things in Google?
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So all the schools that have been all in Google and it sounds like you’ve kind of pulled back a little bit just because of the translation capabilities of all of these different Microsoft apps. First of all, I hope that Google would will catch up somehow because we we want everybody to have access.
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Was it hard to swap over?
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
Well, we actually are a Google district and we use Microsoft as well. So our teachers use both de
pending on the purpose and what they’re using it for. Once, we showed them how easy it was to to move their things over. It wasn’t difficult at all. And we have teachers using both.
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Yes! That’s what we do at our school. Is there anything else that we haven’t covered? Because these are very exciting game-changers that are going to help kids and parents.
You can have Office 365 A-1 for free
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I was just going to add that there is a misconception. People think, Oh, I have to pay for some of these Office 365 tools, but if your district goes out there and talks to them and get the A-1 package actually free, most of these tools that we talked about are actually free that you can just bring into your district.
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
What is the Quality of the Translating Material Going Home to Parents?
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Yes. That’s excellent. Now, let me ask one question. You said that you could use it and have it help you translate the material to go home. Do you recommend having someone read over it, though, before it goes home?
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Is it that good that you can just translate and send it?
Recommendation: Disclose That You Used a Translator
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I know from a Spanish teacher, I can tell you that it is very, very well done. I’ve also had people that speak Mandarin look at it too, and they say it’s close enough. But obviously, yes, you might want someone to look at it, honestly.
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Yes. Or you could say at the bottom “translated using _____.”
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Encouragement for Teachers who Teach Students Who Speak Multiple Languages
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And just disclose it because otherwise, you may set the impression that you speak a language, perhaps that you don’t. So as we finish, I would just like each of you just to give a pep talk to teachers about reaching every child.
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Teresa Magpayo Castro
You know, these tools, of course, you know, we came from the point of view as trying to overcome the barrier of language. As you think of these tools, think of all of your students. A lot of reasons would benefit from this, not just those who struggle with language, but those who struggle with many other things.
And there’s many tools out there that we encourage you to use because every student deserves to have equitable access to your instruction and to to your class. So please don’t hesitate to try out these new, amazing tools that can help make a difference for that one or two children who might just be easily forgotten in the back. And you can make a world of difference and change their lives by just giving them access to these things.
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Yeah, I completely agree. I think I started by saying that, you know, accessibility is my passion, but I think we focus on language right now. But yeah, there’s socioeconomic status barriers such as cultural barriers, special needs in all of these tools.
What they do for us is that they allow us to come in and be able to understand that diversity is a fact, right? Equity is a choice, but inclusion is an action. And the magic occurs when we take all of that and make sure belonging becomes the outcome for all of our students.
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Okay. So we have Teresa Magpayo Castro and Ricardo Recinos. Check them out in the show notes as a great resource. Thank you both for your time.
Readlee: An Amazing Reading Fluency Tool from Harvard Researchers
00;18;14;15 – 00;18;50;02
Readlee is an amazing literacy tool that enables teachers to go from collecting reading data a couple times a year to getting data each week (or day!) in just 5-10 minutes. Developed in collaboration with researchers at the Harvard School of Education, students read aloud and the tool collects data on fluency and accountability (think words correct per minute and total time read, among others) and a recording and transcript of their reading. You can provide feedback to your students on any text (print or digital) and they can hear you read as well.This is a perfect tool for summer school, reading tutors and anyone teaching reading. Go to Readlee.com today to set up your free account and get started. That’s R-e-a-d-l-e-e – get started with Readlee today!
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You’ve been listening to the Ten Minute Teacher podcast. If you like this program, you can find more and coolcatteacher.com. If you wish to see more content by Vicki Davis, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter under @coolcatteacher.
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Thank you for listening.