School can be very frustrating when you are unable to read proficiently. Heather Cary, a level three special education teacher at Denison Community School District, knows this very well. She devotes much of her time each day trying to engage students who have learning difficulties.


You can imagine how thrilled she was to learn about World Book Web Online from Debby Berthelsen, media technology specialist at Northwest AEA. The Iowa AEA Online program has a “read text aloud” feature that Cary introduced to a high school class, including a student who was often disengaged and frustrated because of a reading disability.


The student has great listening comprehension skills but reads at a kindergarten level. Once she showed the student how to use this feature, the student was not only inspired but also wanted to stay after class to complete work.


“With AEA Online this student is now able to complete research with peers because the text is read at lower reading levels,” Cary stated.

Berthelsen says she wishes more teachers in northwest Iowa knew about online and other technology resources.

“There are so many outstanding resources available through Iowa AEA Online to help engage students in their learning,” said Berthelsen. “We love having the opportunity to show teachers the keys to unlocking student potential.”


To enable the read-aloud feature, Bethelsen says to first choose an article. Then click on the box at the top that says, “Tools.” In the bottom right-hand corner of the box click on “Enable read-aloud toolbar.” A box will appear that allows a person to select faster or slower, or to stop when finished. Use the mouse and then place the curser in front of the article and click. The text will turn yellow and in a few seconds the audio will begin.


If you would like to learn about this and other online resources for students and teachers, please contact Debby Berthelsen or Pam Buysman at Northwest AEA.