The first hour of homeschool this morning threatened to be a disaster. Hyper-Techie was in his usual morning funk and morning prayer was interrupted twice as neighborhood sirens sent our dogs into two choruses of painful yowls (I try to empathize – – I guess it must be like getting the radio stuck on an Alanis Morissette song. At least I have opposable thumbs to stick in my ears). Worst of all, though, we couldn’t find The Writer. It wasn’t in any of its normal spots-underneath the computer chair, dropped into the hamper, between the cushions of the dog bed—I mean how was I supposed to find it if it obviously wasn’t where it was supposed to be??
But my search got me thinking about how dependent our homeschool has become on our assistive technology. The Writer is a portable keyboard that we use for daily journaling and keyboard practice. It includes built-in word prediction software, so when H-T (who has dyslexia) is journaling, and can’t remember how to spell o-v-e-r-b-e-a-r-i-n-g m-o-t-h-e-r, all he has to do is type in the first couple of letters of the word he’s looking for, and word options will come up for him to choose from.
We’ve acquired a good bit of assistive technology over the years. Some of our favorites have included:
As-U-Type – – a computer spellchecker that tracks all your misspellings so you can know what words you need the most work on (and, as a perk, lets you know when hubby has been looking at things he shouldn’t – – honey, voluptuous is spelled with one ‘p’)
Audio Books from the Library of the Blind and Physically Handicapped – – people with dyslexia qualify to receive these audio books, which are ordered online and come through the mail. H-T reads along in the actual book as the cassettes (soon to be digital files) are read aloud by wonderful dramatic voice artists. The upside of this technology is that I get to catch up on some terrific books as I am busy “lesson planning” on the couch while H-T reads
MathPad – – electronic worksheets that help kids line up and solve math problems on a computer screen – – if you have ever tried to do long division or multiplication on scratch paper, you will recognize how invaluable something like this can be…no more forgetting to drop down your zero or writing your number in the wrong column. For me, it means no more shots of tequila before lunchtime because H-T’s math didn’t come out right, and he wants to know, for the thousandth time, just when he will actually USE this stuff in his lifetime??
Inspiration (and Kidspiration for the younger set) – – a graphic organizer software that lets you create reports, projects, and papers the visual way, with diagrams, pictures, and notes. Perfect for visual learners, and those who like to “see” things before they put them to paper.
Post It Digital Notes – – God’s representatives on earth to help keep a highly distractible family from falling to ruin. They are little digital versions of the popular stick on reminders that sit on your computer screen and remind you when to take a quiz, when to upload your assignments, and when to tell Mom it’s time for Regis and Kelly. Well, I mean, sometimes in the business of homeschooling, you can forget the important stuff.
Homeschool got better by mid-morning, by the way. We finally found The Writer. Someone had the bright idea to put it back up on the school supply shelf. If people keep putting things back in their proper place around here, I’m never going to be able to find anything. My house is, and I’m afraid, always will be – – Topsy Techie. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to make assistive technology for that.
Filed under: assistive technology, dyslexia, educational technology, homeschool, teaching, technology | Tagged: Alanis Morrissette, assistive technology, clutter, dyslexia, Post It notes, The Writer |