Class #5 Response

Today's class was a completely different format and yet equally as powerful as the others we have had in this course! It is our last class together prior to the presentations of our case studies. I have mixed emotions because this has been such a great learning experience and it has to end. And that is kind of how the rest of the class was as well - full of mixed emotions!

Barb shared some videos with us today about two children with different Learning Disabilities and they certainly affected me.  I was frustrated, angry, sad, joyous and relieved all in one class while viewing the videos. They were certainly very powerful! 

While viewing the videos, Barb had us do a task analysis of the writing process in various ways. First, using pen and paper, then our laptops and finally with a writing app on the IPods. This wasn't easy. Even though she had given us the writing task analysis she had completed weeks ago, thinking of all the things we do before and as we are writing is a challenge! Here is a picture of the writing task analysis Barb created and shared.  

It is quite obvious, even though it's impossible to read, just how intricate the writing process is!  But, you get the point!

The videos Barb shared with us came from a series of videos found at her blog: misunderstoodmindsLD.blogspot.com
Meeting Nathan and Lauren clearly demonstrated how students who go undiagnosed face great challenges.  This was so frustrating to watch, both as a parent and then as a teacher! I really felt terrible for both sets of parents and their children. Poor little Nathan who appeared to be an overachiever prior to school had a really. Finally, he was diagnosed by Dr. Levine, co-founder of All Kinds of Minds. http://www.allkindsofminds.org/ Read an interesting interview with Dr. Levine at http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/levine.htm
Nathan had a weakness in phonemic awareness.  As described in the video series, he had a tangle in his wiring which causes him not to be able to learn. Poor little Nathan, who appeared to be reading prior to school, but in fact had magnificent coping skills (memorization), repeated first grade, had a tutor in Grade 2 and just was not succeeding, had a Learning Disability.  He was placed in the Resource room during Grades 3 and 4 (not sure I agree with this!) When he had to write a State test at the end of Grade 4, he received the accomodations he needed: he was able to dictate his answers and he scored an unbelievably high score! Finally, Nathan would receive the assistance he needed!!
Lauren's (an 11 year old) challenges were different - she was off-task, disorganized, described as 'in another world', yet very creative, and experienced great social problems. Her parents had her switch schools, hoping that would help. Then, she saw Dr. Levine and it was suggested she get a 'Focus Coach' to help her. He also suggested she needed a drug like ritalin because she had a lack of dopamine in her brain. However, her parents were resistant to the idea of having her on medication.  So, she spent the next few years without it. When her parents finally agreed to using medication, (in 8th grade), the changes were phenomonal, both socially and academically! Something she said that really hit a note for me was that when she took the medication it was like it didn't really change her, but 'tuned her up a little'. Two amazing children who struggled unneccessarily for years all because they went undiagnosed!

After viewing the videos, we discussed the writing task analysis and talked about some AT available for writing.
Co-writer is a word prediction program that sits over any application and has dictionaries that can be modified to create your own. Check it out at: http://www.donjohnston.com/products/cowriter/index.html
Take a look at this video: 

WriteOutLoud is another great assistive tech - a talking word processor that can work in conjunction with CoWriter. http://www.donjohnston.com/products/write_outloud/index.html

Check out a demo at:

Dragon Naturally Speaking is a voice recognition software that makes it really easy to interact with your computer. http://www.nuance.com/for-individuals/by-product/dragon-for-pc/index.htm  There is also a dragon app for the Ipod.

WordQ: WordQ + SpeakQ is the first and only integrated word prediction and speech recognition tool available. It is a FREE download! Check it out at:  http://www.goqsoftware.com/en/
Check out a video here: 

Also, many PCs have a built in speech recognition program that is quite good. It can be somewhat tricky to use, but it does the trick. We tried it out in class, but it was a little challenging because of all the background noise.

So much to think about and so little time!!!

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