Read & Write Gold
Software to Increase Representation, Expression, and Engagement for Diverse Learners
Dr. Cate Smith
Reading Education and Special Education
Appalachian State University
Originally designed to help struggling readers, Read & Write Gold offers benefits to all readers and writers. Nationwide, approximately 15-20% of all children and adults are affected by a learning disability (NIH, 2014). Now, more than ever, students with learning disabilities (including dyslexia) are graduating high school and attending colleges and universities. It is providing supports to high school students with disabilities that first attracted Dr. Cate Smith to Read & Write Gold.
Dr. Smith, Assistant Professor of Special Education at Appalachian State University, uses Read & Write Gold with her pre-service special education teachers and as an accommodation for learners with disabilities at the university. With such large numbers of students in K-12 settings receiving special education supports for learning disabilities (almost 2.5 million in 2014), future educators are very likely to work with students who would benefit from this technology.
With versatile features and a discreet, customizable toolbar, Read & Write Gold for the desktop offers digital supports to users at school, home, and work. Read & Write Gold integrates reading, writing, studying, and research support tools with commonly used programs. The toolbar floats on top of programs such as Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer, Google Docs, Safari, and Adobe Reader and provides a variety of instant supports. Additionally, there are online Read & Write Gold web-supports and an iPad application. Read & Write Gold allows educators to access the tenets of Universal Design for Learning via a comprehensive, easy-to-use tool. Engaging for users with and without disabilities, Read & Write Gold appeals to everyone from early readers to adults in the workplace. The embedded features promote maximum independence and minimize the threats of embarrassment or distraction. With such a small, discreet toolbar, it is virtually impossible to tell that someone is using this support.
See the video below, Figure 1, for an introduction to Read & Write Gold for the PC [transcript].
Figure 1: Read & Write Gold for the PC: An introductory video (3:20 minutes)
Each of the College STAR modules includes a concept map, giving readers an overview of the module content. (A concept map represents information or concepts in a graphical format .) The concept maps show the links between the instructional practice in the module, possible outcomes, and, in some cases, the principles of Universal Design for Learning, known as UDL.
Figure 2, the concept map shown below, illustrates the components of the instructional practice in this module, which is Read & Write Gold: Using software to increase representation, expression, and engagement for diverse learners. The module explores the benefits, software, and additional resources available to use with the Read & Write Gold program. First, the module discusses the benefits for both student users and educators. Next, the software itself is discussed. The first topic in this section is the difference between the two versions of the Read & Write Gold software for PC and Mac computers. Next in the module is an in-depth exploration of the features available including: reading supports, writing supports, and research and study skills supports. Following the features section, the module discusses the Teacher's Toolkit feature for PC computers and online resources that are free for all educators. A discussion of the unique challenges facing learners in higher education settings concludes the module.
Clicking on the concept map, Figure 2, will enlarge the image.
There are multiple ways to navigate College STAR modules. Clicking on the sidebar menu takes you directly to the main sections and subsections of the module.
Navigation features located at the top and bottom of each screen allow you to move through the module. Clicking on the “breadcrumb trail” at the top of the module screen takes you directly to previously viewed parts of the module, as shown below in Figure 3 in the example from the Charting Student Information module.
Figure 3: A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page. A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page.
The navigation arrows at the bottom of each screen take you to the previous or next components of the module. The menu link at the bottom of each screen takes you to the top of the screen where you may view the menu sidebar as shown in Figure 3 below.
Figure 4: Navigation links are also located at the bottom of each page of a module.
Additionally, some links within the text lead to other sections of the module. Please use your preferred method of navigation to proceed to the next section about Universal Design for Learning (UDL).