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Showing posts from June, 2014

Teaching Handwriting: An Important Skill to Master

With the integration of technology into the classroom and limited instructional time, teachers spend less and less time on the teaching of penmanship.  In fact, many schools have stopped teaching script altogether.  Instead, the instruction and practice time, that was once used to refine printing and cursive skills, have been reallocated to other tasks such as keyboarding.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Limited Instruction on Penmanship?
Because young learners are spending less time on penmanship, many students do not fully develop this skill, and their fine motor abilities suffer.  Therefore, when they write, they have to think about letter and word formation, leaving little to no room for listening, the formation of ideas or sentence structure.   In addition, we are seeing a number of adverse effects across areas of academics:
Because student handwriting skills are not fully developed to a degree of automaticity, many students still need to concentrate on penmanship.  As a result,…

Using Free Mac Text to Speech to Edit Student Writing

For many students, it is a struggle to edit one's own writing - if it is even done at all.  We all tend to read what we have written the way we meant to write it, and it’s easy to scan over misspelled words, word omissions, improper word choices and more.   Typos like “form” instead of “from,” will never be detected by a spell check and these types of mishaps can be very difficult to notice.  However, activating text to speech on the Mac can really help with the editing process.
What is Text to Speech? Text to speech is an assistive technology device that allows the writer to highlight text and with a simple command, the computer will read your writing aloud.It uses computerized speech, but there are a couple voices that are quite realistic. How Can I Use This Technology on My Mac?
Go to system preferences.Select “Dictation and Speech” which offers a microphone icon.Select a "System Voice" (my personal favorite is Alex), and pick a speaking rate by sliding the icon betwee…

10 Great, Free Typing Games

Over the summer months, kids can easily improve their keyboarding skills while having fun. There are numerous free typing games available on the internet, and this blogpost highlights a few of them.  The very first one listed, Dance Mat Typing, is by far my favorite of all the options.  In fact, it is better than many purchasable software programs and online lessons. The first two games offer lessons, while the last eight are games that allow students to practice their keyboarding skills.
Dance Mat Typing This is a comprehensive typing game.  It is a free, beginners keyboarding game by BBC.
Free Typing Lessons This site offers some simple, free typing lessons.
Air Typer Kids can practice keyboarding skills by typing the words on the oncoming planes to make them disappear.
Type 'em Up Type the letters to make the oncoming spaceships disappear while dodging their attack with the space bar. 
Martian City Defender Kids can save a martian colony by typing strings of letters that will destroy the…

Teaching The Joy of Writing: A Scaffolding Approach

For many students writing can be an overwhelming, taxing chore.In order to be proficient, students must be able to manage multiple tasks at one time, and to juggle these responsibilities, the following must be developed to near automaticity: 1.Conjuring up and organizing ideas. 2.Understanding and being able to implement basic grammar and sentence structure. 3.Recording words through legible penmanship or proficient typing. 4.Comprehending and utilizing various literacy devices. 5.Knowing how to spell. If a student struggles with any of the above tasks, their writing will likely suffer.
How Can Students Develop the Needed Skills to Automaticity? I evaluate each student's current writing capabilities and note any difficulties.Then the two of us collaborate and write together.The student picks the topic.It could be a story, a research paper, a blog, a book of poetry, a diary, a recipe book...In fact, I have been known to write 20-40 page documents with young learners that are illustrate…