Friday, April 13, 2007


An elementary school student felt empowered this week and his excitement was contagious. Let me tell you about it.

I was asked to assess a fifth grade student with cognitive disabilities who is currently unable to read beyond a few sight words and therefore unable to write as well. In the course of our assessment, I showed him how he could type his initials and then press the space bar and his whole name would appear in Word (using the autocorrect feature). He loved it!

I then showed him how he could hear his name read outloud by clicking on the WordTalk Toolbar right in Word. The enormous smile on his face spoke volumes. He typed his initials again, and clicked the WordTalk icon again. Then he asked me to type a sentence about a preferred subject which I did. He listened to all the text several times. I showed him how to do it just once and he had control over what he listened to. That's all it took.

Then, we walked to where his teacher was working with other students in his group and he demonstrated what he learned to them. His excitement was contagious! He had never had this opportunity before and he couldn't wait to share what he could do.

This was a beginning - this student learned that although he is essentially a non-reader and non-writer, there are tools that will help him to overcome those difficulties and empower him in ways that his teachers did not realize was possible. The power of voice through text-to-speech combined with assistive technology software will remove the obstacles to learning that this student has encountered up until now. And because every word is highlighted as it is read and because he likes to hear the sentences repeatedly, it will be interesting to see what effect this has on increasing his sight word vocabulary.

Empowering students. Seeing the outcomes. Sharing the excitement. Isn't this what teaching is all about?

So, who have you empowered this week?


Anonymous said...

You are my hero! Yeah baby- from where I stand it just doesnt get any better than this. Woo hoo.

I so look forward to your presentation with my students.


Karen Janowski said...

Thanks for your comments! This is always the best part of what I do. Can't wait to share with your students - they are asking great questions and I look forward to stimulating discussion at the end of the month.