Lesson Plan

Free Digital Texts on the iPad

Using Bookshare to get literature and textbooks for qualifying students for free on the iPad
David H. C.
Technology coordinator
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Students will be able to access digital texts on their portable tablet in the best mode for their special reading needs. For large print and Braille readers, this will also make carrying what are usually bulky items much easier.

English Language Arts
Grades K – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Free, Paid

Bookshare provides students with a qualifying disability the access to a library of digital literature and textbooks that can be read on an iPad with the companion app, Read2Go. As the books from Bookshare are in the Daisy format, they can only be read in an app designed to open Daisy text documents. Membership for students and teachers is free and there is no additional charge for downloads. The Read2Go app is $19.99 but can be purchased at half price through Apple's Volume Purchasing Program.

The goal of Bookshare is to ensure that people with print disabilities have the same access to a wide range of printed materials at the same time as everyone else. Bookshare works with publishers as well as a large team of volunteers to make digital versions of current literature and textbooks available to those with print disabilities, be they visual impairment, learning disabilities such as dyslexia, or physical impairments that prevent the reader from being able to access regular print. These Daisy digital ebooks then can be read using various tools, be they text-to-speech devices that allow auditory access to print, Braille conversion software and hardware for blind readers, or multi-sensory reading applications that allow people with learning disabilities to adjust the printed material in ways that support how they best access the written word. Read2Go is on such app, designed for use on iOS devices. Read2Go allows the reader to access the complete library of Bookshare materials and read them in they most appropriate modality. The user can simply listen to the book using Read2Go's text-to-speech feature, translate the book into Braille with a blueooth display, or adjust the print size, color, contrast and background based on their reading needs.

While the Read2Go app allows students with individual memberships to download literature directly themselves, the app cannot download books with images if they have any. In addition, due to copyright regulations, most textbooks (specifically those sourced through NIMAC - th National Instructional Materials Access Center) can only be downloaded by teachers with Organizational accounts and then transferred to students to add to the Read2Go app.

I'm going to show you one method of transferring NIMAC textbooks and literature with images to students so they can read them on their iPads with Read2Go. There are several possible ways to do this but I wanted to focus on one of the easiest for both the teacher and the student.

2 Guided Practice

First off, this is assuming that the student already has the Read2Go app on their iPad. Make sure the "Show Images" slider is on in the Visual Settings so that the student will see any images (which can include charts, diagrams, maps, and even equations in textbooks). You should have also already set up a shared folder in Dropbox with the student.

1. From a computer, the teacher logs into their Organizational Account on the Bookshare website (this can be down on a tablet as well but it is easier to download and transfer books on a computer).

2. Once the book is found, click on the "Download" button. On the Membership Roster page that opens up, check off the student(s) you are getting the book for. Make sure the Download format is "Daisy with Images." Note that due to copyright laws, you will have to download separate copies of a book for each student who will be reading it.

3. After selecting the student(s), click on the "Download Books" button. Confirm the book download on the following page and click on the "Download" button.

4. The digital copy of the book will be generated on the "My History" page (each book gets a digital fingerprint to prevent piracy). This may take a few minutes for large textbooks. You'll receive an email letting you know when it is ready and it will be labled "Available" on the My History page.

5. Click on the "Available" link and the book will be downloaded to your computer in as a zipp file. Do not unzip the file. It should should be transferred to the student in the compressed format. 

6. Move the zip file to a Dropbox folder you have already set up to share with the student. Let the student know you've put the zipped book file in the shared Drobox folder.

7. Have the student open up the Dropbox app on their iPad and navigate to the shared folder. They should tap on the zipped book file and let it load in the Dropbox window (again, this can take a few minutes for lager textbooks). When done loading, the screen Dropbox window will say, "No Preview Available. This file type can't be viewed." Don't worry, this is correct.

8. On the top of the Dropbox window, towards the right side (it will be next to the star icon) will be an icon shaped like a square with an arrow pointing upwards. Tap on the square and then tap on the "Open In..." icon.

9. Select the "Open in Read2Go" icon from the list that comes up. There may be a lot of other options but they will not be able to open the book for the student to read.

10. The book will open up in Read2Go. The student will now be able to read the book in their preferred format (auditory, large print, combined, etc.) in the Read2Go app.

3 Wrap Up

Activity: Reading

Now that the book has been transferred to the Read2Go app, it will appear on the student's bookshelf. The student can highlight and make bookmarks while reading the book. The Read2go app will remember the page the student was on and re-open to that page the next time the student selects the book.