Summer is a great time to get up to speed with technology learning tools that can help a student succeed come fall. Training is more relaxed and avoids the pressure of learning to use assistive technology while juggling other studies.
Students with learning differences often have an impressive array of cognitive "tools" in one area (e.g., math, reasoning), but a minimal set in others (e.g., reading fluency, spelling). The goal of this summer activity is to complement their internal toolset with a "technology toolbelt: a personalized set of devices and software selected to leverage their strengths and to reduce the impact of learning challenges.
Just as a master craftsman relies on a variety of tools and an expert cook maintains assorted utensils, the successful learner should have a number of technologies in their “toolbelt”, know how to use them, and know which tool is best for a given task. Though the assortment of tools may evolve over time to accommodate changing needs, such a toolbelt will serve an individual with LD through middle school and high school, into college, and beyond.
For example, a student who has difficulty reading will likely benefit most from an assortment of reading tools for different tasks and contexts: a simple text-to-speech utility like Natural Reader which speaks aloud Word documents or the Web while visually highlighting text; a more robust literacy & learning software like Kurzweil 3000 or Read & Write Gold to support reading comprehension and study; a utility that converts text to MP3 files that can be listened to on a smartphone or music player; an iPod app for listening to Learning Ally audiobooks on-the-go; and memberships in both Bookshare and Learning Ally for access to books in alternative forms. The student would use a different tool depending on the material to be read and the purpose for reading it (e.g., a novel vs. a science textbook). The goal is to equip the student with a well-thought-out collection of tools and provide the skills and confidence to use them.
For more about the philosophy behind creating a Technology Toolbelt, please see Ira Socol's excellent blog entries on "Toolbelt Theory".
This summer focus is designed primarily for middle school, high school, and college students. Services are provided in your home at times we mutually decide.
Step 1: Match student with the "right" technology tools
Students perform best with tools that complement their cognitive abilities, target specific tasks, and fit their learning environments. Assessment process includes:
- Full documentation review (educational evals, diagnostic test reports, IEPs, 504 plans, etc.)
- One-on-one working sessions with student (try promising tools, explore learning prefs)
- Summary of recommended tools and strategies
|Step 2: Get the selected technology up and running||
Insure that everything is installed and operating properly prior to training
|Step 3: Learn to use and to apply the tools||
Training and Strategies – students need both to gain the proficiency and self-confidence to use technology effectively.
- Hands-on skills training (how to operate the tools) geared to student’s learning styles
- Application strategies (how to apply the tools to achieve academic goals)
Please note: This is not a replacement for a formal assistive technology assessment and comprehensive report. However, it lays significant groundwork for such an assessment should one be needed in the future.
See Services tab for hourly rate and related info.
To help get you thinking, here are examples of outcomes you might consider for AT learning tools:
Reading tools to:
Study tools to:
Writing tools to:
Notetaking tools to:
Math tools to:
Time & Task Management tools to:
Call or write, and let's discuss what you and your student would like to accomplish.