"Tech Up" Your Learning Skills This Summer (or anytime) – Get Equipped for Success This Fall
Summer is a great time to get up to speed on 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, 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 or the Speak Selection function on a Mac for hearing Word documents or webpages spoken aloud; a more robust literacy & learning software like Kurzweil 3000 or Read & Write for Google to support reading comprehension and study; an iPhone app or Android app for listening to narrated audiobooks on-the-go; Snap&Read Universal for on-the-fly access to inaccessible Web text; 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".
Schedule a Summer "Tech Up"
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 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 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?
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
- Increase 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
- Improve focus
Writing tools to:
- Get ideas out of the head and onto "paper"
- Organize all those great ideas
- Produce written text
- Mitigate the effects of poor spelling and grammar
- Facilitate revising and editing
Notetaking tools to:
- Reduce time spent writing notes, increase time listening
- Make notes more effective for study and review
- Keep notes organized
Math tools to:
- Type math equations, even for complex math
- Create graphs and other math diagrams on a computer
Time & Task Management tools to:
- Increase awareness of time, and ability to plan use of time
- Collect and prioritize "to-do's" and assignments
- Reduce distractions and wasted time (e.g., Web surfing)
Organization tools to:
- Break larger projects into manageable chunks
- Keep track of papers, computer documents, and information so they are "findable"