Do you think technology is an optional way to engage students in the learning process? Maybe, instead, you think of technology as an essential tool for modern-day success in the workplace. For children with learning differences, technology can be a game-changer. Technology offers tools that can augment memory, assist with organization/executive functioning, and provide bridges to concepts and skills that seem perpetually out of reach for some children. From facilitating writing, to offering opportunities for reinforcement of basic math and reading skills, technology is an important resource - especially when children are taught by a qualified educator (like an educational therapist) how to select and take advantage of appropriate online tools and apps.
Here's a quick list of useful education apps and online resources to get you started:
Apps to facilitate the WRITING PROCESS:
Dragon Dictation is the most well-known speech to text app for a reason. It is easy to use and free to download! In order to insure success, this app should be introduced carefully with special attention paid to punctuation and enunciation. Once students understand how to speak clearly, and how to include punctuation, this app can liberate students to efficiently compose complex pieces of writing. Gone are the frustrations that fine motor difficulties, spelling confusion, and memory deficits can cause for students. This app can think as fast as you can!
Storyboard That is an online tool (also available as an app) that allows students to plan and or fully express ideas in cartoon format. This tool could be used in countless ways! Customizable, cartoon figures allow writers to present stories, informational reports, or to show what they have learned from a unit of study. The site is easy to use and free. The cartoon format is highly motivating for many students. Also, because some information is presented through the pictures, students can say more with fewer words. This is a great alternative to slide shows or traditional essays. Let your creativity flow!
ChatterPix seems almost too simple - at first. This app allows users to animate photos (of anything) by drawing a mouth and recording words. In other words, it turns any photo into a puppet willing to share your ideas! In short, it is a hilarious way to save and share ideas. Need to write a report about Abraham Lincoln? Save a photo of him and let him do the talking. This app is especially effective in helping students organize and consolidate ideas. Once an idea is recorded, it can be played again and again allowing students to transfer ideas to paper or to a typed report. It can be even more effective to use ChatterPix in conjunction with graphic organizers and outlines. Coupling these tools allows students to record ideas that meet expectations set by classroom teachers.
Dance Mat Typing offers kids a fun way to learn how to touch type. Animated figures guide children slowly through the process of learning how to position their hands and memorize the location of each letter. This program is offered by the BBC and has been vetted by a number of local independent schools. Programs like Microsoft Word and Google Docs have great assistive features for children with learning differences. Learning how to type gives them more complete access to built in features like spell check, thesaurus, grammar check, and document sharing for collaborative work. So, what are you waiting for? Get in there and start typing!
READ WRITE THINK
Read Write Think is an online collection of literacy tools and resources for parents, educators, and students. Here you will find engaging ways to plan papers, practice reading skills, present ideas, and more! Feed your child's budding interest in writing by creating book covers together. Listen to the experts talk about the learning process with pod casts. This is an almost endless treasure trove of helpful technology curated by education experts. These tools are especially effective when introduced by a skilled educator. Here are a few favorites from the site:
*Click on the links below to try them out!
Persuasion Map - Need to form a persuasive argument? This map will guide the way. From creating a strong thesis statement, to providing adequate support for each sub-point, this online tool provide a visual structure to support organization and complete thoughts.
Trading Card Creator - Looking for a fun alternative to book reports? This tool allows children to create trading cards that describe their favorite literary figures and story characters. Children are guided through the process of carefully considering and noting a character's thoughts, actions, feelings, and traits.