I've been quiet in the past week because of other professional development commitments. In the course of spreading the gospel of technology for ALL learners including our students who struggle due to cognitive issues, learning issues, developmental issues, etc., I keep hearing how little technology is being integrated into the classrooms to promote learning and independence.
Why is this?
Is status quo working?
Is dictating to an adult preferable to independently creating written expression using technology which may incorporate embedded prompts, verbal cuing, text-to-speech, a preferred font, the ability to customize the appearance, so many factors that can make written expression engaging!
Is having an adult read the text to a struggling reader who may be reading several grades below her class preferable to having the student independently access the text using reading software that is customized at a rate that works best? Will students say, "Excuse me, I didn't get that - can you read that back to me?" Or, will they independently highlight and reread the text on their own when provided the opportunity for independence?
We know the answer! So, why aren't our struggling students able to access these tools? It's time for advocacy!
Dependence is not an option.
Failure is not an option.
There are other options and many of them are already available in the classrooms. It's just that staff are not trained in the integration of these tools. A great place to start to learn more is through reading "Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age," by Rose and Meyer.
Another great place to start is to explore all those features built into Microsoft Word including text-to-speech (although it does not highlight as the words are read). There are resources and tools that are readily available and easy to use.
There are other excellent products such as Clicker 5, IntelliTools Classroom Suite, Kurzweil 3000, Read and Write Gold, WordQ/SpeakQ, and SOLO by Don Johnston
Let's work together to truly promote student learning and independence.
Failure, on our part, is not an option.