"Tech Up" Your Learning Skills This Summer (or anytime) – Get Equipped for Success Next Fall

Summer is a great time to learn technology that can help a student succeed come fall.  Training is more relaxed and avoids the pressure of learning new tools while juggling other studies.

Assembling a Technology Toolbelt

Students with learning differences often have an impressive array of cognitive "tools" in one area (e.g., math, verbal reasoning), but a minimal set in others (e.g., reading fluency, organization). 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.

The Right Tools for the Job

A skilled craftsman, an expert cook, and even a masked crimefighter can all attribute at least some of their success to one thing: having the right tools for their jobs.  Likewise, the successful learner will have a variety 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 and abilities, such a toolbelt will serve an individual with LD through middle school and high school, into college, and beyond.

For example, a student who struggles with reading fluency, comprehension, and critical thinking will likely benefit from an assortment of tools for different tasks and contexts – for example:

The student's choice of tools would depend on the material to be read and the purpose for reading it (e.g., a novel for pleasure vs. a science textbook for taking notes and studying later).  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".

Schedule a Summer "Tech Up"

This summer focus is designed primarily for middle school, high school, and college students.  Services are provided online via the web conferencing service Zoom, which allows us to both see, and if necessary control, each other’s screens.  Online sessions also permit more flexible scheduling in terms of days, times, and session duration.

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. This 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 selected technology up and running

Insure that everything is installed and operating properly prior to training
- Review recommendations, set priorities
- Acquire, install, and configure recommended devices and software

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 substitute 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.

Ready to Get Started?

Call or write, and let's discuss what you and your student would like to accomplish. See the Services tab for hourly rate and related info.

Ideas for Summer Tech Goals

To help get you thinking, here are examples of outcomes you might consider for AT learning tools:

Reading tools to:

  • Reduce time spent reading
  • Increase reading fluency
  • Improve comprehension
  • Build vocabulary

Study tools to:

  • Aid analysis (identifying salient points)
  • Create more effective study guides
  • Improve recall and retention
  • Collect and organize information for papers, reports, projects

Writing tools to:

  • Get ideas out of the head and onto "paper"
  • Organize all those great ideas
  • Produce written text (motor aspects of writing)
  • Mitigate the effects of poor spelling and grammar
  • Facilitate revising and editing

Notetaking tools to:

  • Reduce time spent writing notes in class, increase time listening
  • Make notes more effective for study and review
  • Keep notes organized

Math tools to:

  • Type math problems and equations, even for complex math
  • Create graphs and math diagrams on a computer
  • Sequence multi-step math problem solving

Time & Task Management tools to:

  • Collect and keep track of tasks and assignments
  • Increase awareness of time, and ability to 
  • Set priorities and plan use of time

Organization tools to:

  • Break larger projects into manageable chunks
  • Keep track of papers, computer documents, and information so they are "findable"

Productivity tools to:

  • Minimize distractions (both physical and digital)
  • Get started and stay focused
  • Pace completion of tasks.

Less struggle.

More learning.


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Rachael M. Haven, ATP, RET
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Greater success.