Browse Categories

Teaching by Design Using Your Computer to Create Materials for Students with Learning Differences Kimberly S. Voss

<< Previous in By Topic Next in By Topic >>

Price: $34.95

Teaching by Design shows readers how to use the computer to design meaningful educational materials for children and adults with special needs. A synthesis of computer graphics, education, and crafting, this book represents the author's considerable expertise in customizing educational materials for her daughter with multiple disabilities as well as teaching other parents and teachers to create them too.

Full of instructions for designing and adapting materials and strategies for using them--including a time-saving CD-ROM of templates--Teaching by Design is useful to parents and teachers of students of all ages with a wide range of disabilities. Design and customize lotto boards, interactive spelling cards, game pieces, playing cards, matching games, menus, fill-in-the-blank decals, handwriting transparencies, and more, to teach visual perception, math, language, communication, reading, handwriting, and self-help skills.

This book is loaded with illustrations and supportive anecdotal information and is divided into three parts:

  • Controlling Variables explains how presentation (media, text, images, and layout) affects learning and how to make appropriate design choices based on your child's needs and preferences
  • Graphic Skills provides a mini-tutorial on computer graphics programs including Free-Hand, Illustrator, AppleWorks, Paint Shop Pro, CorelDraw, and Microsoft PowerPoint
  • The Recipes include over thirty sets of step-by-step instructions for creating projects, from Interactive Books to Coloring Within the Lines and from Restaurant Menus to Telling-Time Worksheet. The CD-ROM of graphic templates gives users a headstart in the design process.

With this book, and access to a computer, printer, and office and craft supplies, you can make learning for a child with special needs immeasurably easier, richer, and fun for both of you as you make and use custom adaptive materials for home and school. 

"This book contains many creative ideas for hands-on multisensory learning. Most of these ideas are not new, however, they are not intuitive either, and so many parents will find them useful both for home and to take to their child's program."
-Journal of Devvelopmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, Vol. 31, No. 9, November/December 2010

"This semester, I adopted Teaching by Design as the textbook for one of my undergraduate clinical practicum courses. We absolutely LOVE this book! The students have truly enjoyed learning how to make the different materials and have even used what they have learned in class to create materials of their own. In addition to learning how to make the materials, the students have enjoyed reading about Ashley and have such an admiration for her mother. Thanks for providing us with such a useful text."
-Dee Kirby, M.S., CCC/SLP
Assistant Professor of Communication Disorders
Abilene Christian University, Abilene,Texas

"This easy to follow how-to book guides parents and teachers alike in creating materials for their diverse learners. With a focus on Voss' personal experiences, the majority of the designs address the needs of visually impaired students. Ashley also was a non-verbal communicator with limited signing abilities. Though Voss designed with her own child's needs in mind, the materials can be used a variety of levels of students with a variety of needs. Making personal adaptations for the individual needs of the students is an important theme in Voss' book. Though these materials were designed for a child with special needs, they can even be used with typically developing students in the general education classroom. The clarity and organization of this book allow for anyone to pick it up and easily create materials."
-Teaching Exceptional Children Plus, Vol. 2, Issue 4, March 2006

"This excellent book provides design strategies and detailed instructions for creating educational materials to teach visual-perceptual, math, language, communication, reading, handwriting, and self help skills, which meet an individual's unique learning needs. The author enthusiastically relates her journey in developing these practical solutions when available materials were inadequate to educate her daughter who had multiple disabilities. The clear and concise descriptions reflect the author's expertise in specialized teaching strategies and the basics of graphics and computer skills. She clarifies details to enhance the effectiveness of learning materials, e.g., balancing text size and line length (does enlargement improve legibility if the phrase is spilt into two lines?), aspects of text design ambiguities, or spacing between letters or lines. The sequential organization of the book and use of pertinent headings caters to the needs of the novice or the expert who may need to only review specific information. The instructions cover the use of available software on the Mac or the PC platform and working with specialized graphics programs. The information is cross-referenced to direct the reader to a skill taught earlier in the book. A CD-ROM provides templates to start the reader in making the customized educational materials. This book is absolutely essential for special education teams to develop individualized curricular materials. Although its utility to occupational therapists would depend on the extent of their involvement in developing these materials, the information presented is very useful. To therapists who often supply the technological expertise to their special education teams, this book is a priceless resource."
-Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, Volume 73, number 5, December 2006

"This book would be very helpful for: occupational therapists working in school systems, learning-support teachers, students in special education fields, and parents who would be interested in creating learning resources for use at home and school."
-ADVANCE for OTs, April 17, 2006

"Teaching by Design provides an in-depth approach to building learning materials for your child, whatever his or her learning style. Ms. Voss shows readers, step by step, how to create countless games, wheels, sliders, cards, puzzles, and more for teaching children visual perception, reading, writing, communication, math, and self-help skills.

In the first section of the book, Ms. Voss discusses why decisions regarding font size, layouts, graphics, and paper are so important. The next section is devoted to making the actual materials. Each idea is accompanied be detailed instructions, tips, lists of what you'll need, and skills to teach. Each activity can be easily altered depending on the child's needs and ability level, which is made easier by using the included CD-ROM that contains templates for each activity. A graphics program, though not required, makes working with the activities easier, and is highly recommended."
-NDSS Update, Spring 2006, Volume XXII, No. 1

"I opened this book with every intention of giving it a cursory look and putting it aside later. However, Ms. Voss's family story about the birth of her daughter Ashley, her subsequent diagnosis of Down syndrome and associated congenital heart defects, and the devastating complications that resulted from the cardiac surgeries that followed, was so compelling, I read the entire book in one sitting. Ms. Voss was well aware of Ashley's right to receive an education; however, she quickly realized that this did not ensure that her daughter would have the specialized materials she needed in order to learn. Ms. Voss set about transforming herself from a self-described 'technophobe' to ' technophile' and used her computer to create materials that would help Ashley learn. She shares her expertise in this fabulous book. The associated CD-ROM (included in the back of the book) has the templates for each project.

Each chapter includes a discussion of strategies and practical applications to teach children with learning differences visual perception, math, language, communication, reading, handwriting and self-help skills. There are many illustrations and pictures of each finished project, a list of materials, and the tools needed to make each, accompanied by clear, easy-to-follow written directions. In addition to a computer and printer, you will need some supplies like card stock, tape, scissors, and a hole punch; these are readily available at office supply stores or even the supermarket. If you are looking for specialized images or photos, Ms. Voss provides a comprehensive listing of public domain clip art and photos that are available on the Internet. The resource section also includes places to purchase specialized craft materials."
-NewsLine, Volume 26, Number 3 (Federation for Children with Special Needs)

"Wanting to help teach her daughter with multiple impairments, the author developed customized educational materials, examples of what others could do to educate children with disabilities. The result is this book, which provides readers with the information they need to construct modified learning materials using computer software, to help parents and educators remove learning barriers.

Teaching by Design is the outgrowth of Voss's other works, including a software program she published in 1996 called See, Hear, and Say. Voss has also conducted workshops, at national and international levels, concerning the use of technology to educate disabled children. With great skill and detail, she has written this book so that a person who has never sat in front of a computer can get the job done. There's no need to be frightened by any technical tasks, because Voss carefully displays how to create supplies like interactive flashcards to assist children with spelling, communication, mathematical, and visual tasks.

She discusses important information like the relationship between text size and peripheral vision: 'For people who have lost some peripheral vision, text on a line can begin to run outside their visual field as it is enlarged, making it more difficult to be seen.' At times, the reader might feel visually overloaded, due to Voss's photographic examples and demonstrations. At those points, it becomes apparent that the writer has a photographic bias; however, she clearly understands the power and importance of visuals, and how to use them effectively.

For each creative undertaking, Voss identifies the skills that the project is designed to aid the student with, describes the project's level of difficulty, and provides a list of materials needed to complete it. The directions are straightforward and easy to comprehend. One project explains how to use flashcards to teach students how to accomplish assignments like memorizing their daily schedule, by printing the time on one side of the card and the task to be completed on the other side. In another, sophisticated, example, flashcards are described for use in teaching sign language.

Voss even makes a quick mention of copyright laws, so readers can avoid committing copyright infringement when creating the materials. At the end of the text, Voss lists resources that can be used to locate graphics for both Macintosh and Windows users, as well as places to purchase craft supplies.

The focus of Voss's text is more on making the educational materials meaningful, rather than on what a child cannot do--and that is one of this book's great strengths. Teaching by Design is an excellent resource for teachers, parents, tutors, and anyone interested in modified instruction materials for students with learning differences." 
--ForeWord Magazine, January/February 2006

"[A] comprehensive manual for parents and educators that teaches readers how to use their PCs and MACs to create custom-made tools for exceptional learners."
-Exceptional Family, Summer 2006

"It was with mild trepidation that I began reading this book. I am not very technologically minded and thought the information might be boring and difficult. I was very wrong. The author grabbed my attention initially with the heart-breaking story of her daughter, Ashley's, beginnings. Ashley is severely disabled, and her mother has used her computer skills to create the most wonderful, motivating learning materials. These have helped Ashley make progress when standard materials were ineffective.

From creating flash cards to customized jigsaw puzzles and interactive books. There are so many fasinating ideas here (over 40 altogether) for teaching visual perception, maths, language, communications, reading, handwriting and self-help skills. And we are given simple step-by-step instructions which are perfect for the technophobe. My favourite items were the customized game counters and the coloring-in pages with raised boundaries, to aid with coloring between the lines. Best of all, there is a CD rom included with the book, which gives templates for all the projects in the book. So all the hard work is already done.

This is the book for you if you are motivated and creative and want to make fabulous individually customized materials for your child (or adult) with a learning disability."
-New Zealand Down Syndrome News, Volume 28, Autumn 2006

"Both parents and professionals will find this book very helpful; students could use this book when planning presentations as the tips and suggestions are useful when creating any form of visual display. Although Teaching by Design was written for students with learning differences, this book would be a valuable asset in any elementary school classroom. The ideas work for all learners."
-Canadian Down Syndrome Society Newsletter, Spring 2006

"[A] straight-forward 'how-to' guide to quickly and easily craft customized educational tools with the resources of a basic personal computer at one's disposal. The materials presented are designed to make learning as easy and intuitive as possible without excess distractions, and as such are applicable to all children whether learning disabled or not. An accompanying CD-ROM of templates to simplify the process rounds out this invaluable user-friendly resource recommended especially for instructors, but also useful to parents and lay people looking for educational games to play with developing young minds."
-Library Bookwatch from Midwest Book Review, March 2006

"Although [her daughter] Ashley began receiving a significant portion of her education in a regular education classroom, [the author] Kim [Voss] quickly learned that physical access to regular education (and even to appropriate technology) does not guarantee an 'appropriate' education. After becoming burned out with systems advocacy, Kim realized that she could affect the education of her daughter, as well as other children, by using technology to design meaningful and appropriate software and educational materials. She also realized that most ready-made educational materials are not designed for individuals with multiple disabilities, and that most of the materials did an excellent job of reinforcing her daughter's disabilities rather than enhancing her abilities.

The design and publication of Kim's second software application (School Fonts for Beginning Writing published by Mayer-Johnson) precipitated the beginning of Ashley's .

She has subsequently designed another set of fonts, also published by Mayer-Johnson, calledTransitional Fonts for Emerging Writers. She is celebrating the release of her new book:Teaching by Design: Using Your Computer to Create Materials for Students with Learning Differences. Kim focuses her energy on ways to use technology to address various disabilities because of its adaptability, ability to be customized and provide endless repetition, and its multi-sensory approach. She has presented at a number of workshops on advocacy and inclusion, and the use of technology as it relates to persons with disabilities at local, state, national, and international conferences, including Closing the Gap and CSUN's Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities."
-Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa newsletter



About Ashley

About Me: From Technophobe to Technophile

Controlling Variables: Identifying Them

Controlling Variables: Text

Controlling Variables: Images

Controlling Variables: Layout

Controlling Variables: Media


Graphic Skills

Lotto Boards: 
Color Lotto
Shape Lotto
Color & Shape Lotto
Size Lotto
Color & Shape Lotto
Miscellanecous Lotto



Jigsaw Puzzle

Counting Hands

Magnetic Model

Flash Cards

Flip Book

Simple Slider

Pocket Slider

Double Slider

Basic Wheel

Complex Wheel

Clock Faces

Visual Schedule

Telling Time

Rotary Cards

Recipe Cards


Teaching Ashley to Read:
Sight Words

Making Text Tactile and Kinesthetic:
Spelling Your Name
Interactive Spelling Cards
Decoding Text with Word Families
Reading Inventory: Word Magnets & Decal
Fill in the Blank: Word Magnets & Decal
Interactive Books (Type 1-8)
Sentence Building: Parts of Speech

Journal Writing

Handwriting Transparency

Name Labels

Color Within the Lines

Game Spinner

Card Games

Custom Game Piece

Cards for Audio Card Reader



Product Reviews

Rate This Product:
or Create a Review
(0 Ratings, 0 Reviews)
Shopping Cart
Your cart is empty.
Browse by Manufacturer

To our International Customers:  Before placing your order from outside the US, please email John Summers with a list of items you intend to order.  John will email you with a quote for shipping costs and instructions for completing your order.  Thanks!