This article was written by Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles and is re-published with permission.
Technology can be a powerful tool in the inclusive classroom. Using the appropriate technology with the intention of supporting an inclusive learning environment, coupled with sound pedagogy, makes for a powerful combination that ultimately benefits all learners. One of my favorite tools to use in the inclusive classroom is Kami. Kami is an extension for Google Chrome that is more than just annotating PDF’s. The many features of Kami allow for learners to engage in PDF content in a more flexible manner, promotes choice and agency, and supports the use of inclusive technologies as part of the UDL Guidelines (Universal Design for Learning). Here are 5 ways you can use Kami in the inclusive classroom.
1. Built-in Inclusive technology supports
Kami is more than just a PDF annotation tool. Kami contains many features that allow learners to access content using Assistive Technology. Kami’s OCR (Optical Character Recognition Tool) converts PDF’s into an accessible format, which allows for text-based content to be read using text to speech, which is a hugely important tool for building listening comprehension for learners with disabilities, including dyslexia (Klinger, Vaughan, Boardman 2015). Learn how to use Kami’s OCR Tool here.
2. Show what you know
Having the flexibility for learners to show what they know in a way that makes sense to them is providing your learners with multiple means of expression, which is one of the UDL Guidelines. Kami allows learners to show knowledge in multiple ways. Learners can use Kami’s built-in dictation to write thought-provoking answers to questions, or they can use Kami’s annotation features to write/ type responses. Learners can collaborate on a Kami document, adding video, audio, or text-based comments. Learners have various options to demonstrate knowledge though the use of Kami.
3. Content creation
For teachers that are looking to make their static PDF’s more dynamic, the features of Kami allow for learners to engage with a PDF by providing options such as the Rich Text Editor, Dictation, Math tools, Annotation Tools, and Text to Speech. PDF’s become more dynamic with Kami.
However, in today’s boxed curriculum world, a smart option is to design inclusive learning experiences using Kami as a tool. Kami allows teachers to be creative through providing various options, as well as provides multiple means of expression (video, audio, text, pictures). You can import templates (just make sure they’re accessible), create collaborative works, and more. The only limits to creating sound content using Kami are confined to one’s imagination.
4. Artistic expression
Kami has been a game changer for reluctant and budding artists. For example, a learner who struggles with using paper and art mediums suddenly is able to find success with Kami. Tears literally turned into cheers for a young learner who was struggling to draw a Cardinal and used Kami.
Another learner loves to draw and make various characters based on popular games and imagination. With Kami, this learner has an option to store drawings in Google Drive and has the flexibility to change and morph these drawings. With a touch screen Chromebook, using a stylus helps with motor control and accuracy.
Another learner struggles to participate in art class due to excessive anxiety around making errors in artwork. With Kami, this learner is able to participate successfully, is able to make and correct mistakes, and enjoys creating drawings related to interests, which are proudly displayed in their work area.
5. Google Classroom
One of the great features of Kami is its seamless integration with the G Suite Apps (Google Apps Integration). Perhaps one of the best features of the G Suite integration is found within Google Classroom. Teachers can create a Google Classroom assignment within Kami, as well as grade assignments seamlessly with Google Classroom Integration. As an adjunct professor, this feature has been especially helpful for me in terms of grading assignments that are submitted as PDF’s.
Using Kami as a tool to create and support student learning in the inclusive classroom can be a transformative experience. When teachers think beyond the static PDF world and are afforded the opportunity to create content, dynamic and accessible learning takes place. Kami is a great tool to have in the toolkit to support sound pedagogy and provide flexible means.
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