I will talk about the Picture Dictionary in Immersive Reader. I will. I promise. But first, some background. Welcome to Day 16 of 365 Ideas for Office 365.
Anyone who has much experience in Special Education, especially working with students with more severe disabilities, is probably familiar with Boardmaker. I was first introduced to Boardmaker as simple laminated squares with an image and word that nonverbal students would hold up to communicate. Of course there are a limited number of cards you could have on a desk at one time, so this student had a binder full, with plastic sheets with pockets (like I had for my baseball cards at the time) and each page had all the cards for a topic. (A page full of months, another page of seasons and weather, etc.)
Pretty low tech. Next I worked with some students that used digital tools like a Dynavox. These students could press a button and the Dynavox would speak the words for them. They used Boardmaker icons, but they were in sheets that could be swapped out, with tiny icons, so more could fit on a page. More high tech, and more options.
Boardmaker’s Picture Dictionary
I’ve known Boardmaker for decades, but that was my old life, from my 2 decades of Special Education. Imagine my delight when I first discovered the Picture Dictionary in Immersive Reader and realized that Microsoft chose Boardmaker’s extensive library as their source. Tried, true and trusted.
Of course my experience was students using these images for expressive language, and here they are being successfully repurposed for receptive language.
As I’ve shown in recent posts, Immersive Reader is first and foremost a vehicle for text to speech Read Aloud), but it has many other features, such as the Text Preferences, the Grammar Tools, and the Line Focus. Another tool found under the Line Focus tab is the ability to turn on the Picture Dictionary.
Picture Dictionary in Immersive Reader
With Picture Dictionary turned on, students can click on a word and see an image displayed over the text that has one or more examples of that word. Not every word has an image, but there is a surprisingly large library.
As with everything in Immersive Reader, individual users can toggle this feature on or off at any time. That’s how UDL is supposed to work. Give ALL students ALL the tools, and they can choose what supports they need and when to use them. And when not to.