Freedom Scientific Learning Systems Group Presents
Love of Learning is a WYNNer for Future Engineer
One of the first things Sean Mitchell’s mother, Jintamai, has to say about her son is, “Sean is the kind of person who never complains and has a quiet, controlled, and tireless drive to succeed.” She continues to explain that when Sean was younger, while others around him were concerned with his inability to read, Sean never tired of searching for knowledge. Despite his dyslexia, Sean developed a love of learning. He found joy in reading his favorite subjects, science and history.
Sean, who heads off to Cornell this fall to study engineering, says, “I do have dyslexia. I am a very slow reader and a bad speller. I am fortunate though to be able to write well in spite of my problems. I compensate for my disability through my strong auditory abilities.” His strong writing aptitude helped win him a perfect score in his SAT essay. An amazing feat for anyone, but especially for someone who has dyslexia.
So how did this young man achieve his academic success? Sean was in a very challenging academic kindergarten when he began showing signs of having learning problems. His mother had Sean tested and while the school had the diagnosis, they did not have a remedy. A decision had to be made whether to have Sean stay in his current placement or place him in a special education school. While they knew it would be hard for Sean, it was decided to keep him in his school with additional support. He struggled through his early elementary years trying to learn the mechanics of reading. Tutoring was offered two or three times a week. Different methods such as Lindamood-Bell and Slingerland were implemented. One principal was quoted as saying, “I know he is like a guinea pig, but we have to do something.” Sean was recognized by his teachers as being bright, focused, and a very capable learner. It was hard for everyone to understand why all this support was not helping him to be able to read.
Jintamai recalls, “Sean was incredibly curious as a child and listened to the news, history channel, science channel, etc. He also wanted me to read difficult science books to him. He had an insatiable appetite for knowledge and literature. We bought every possible book that existed on tape. Thankfully Harry Potter came out on tape after the first volume!”
Both Sean and Jintamai were at odds with his educational plan at that point. Sean, while extremely thankful for his mother’s support, felt that her reading to him all the time was robbing him of his independence. His mother felt that it was unfair for Sean to have to struggle so hard to learn to read and then also have to have all his free time taken up with unsuccessful tutoring to overcome his issues. She said, “There was no time left for Sean to explore any areas that he excelled at and enjoyed.”
It was in fourth grade, while Sean was being tutored at the Children’s Health Center in Palo Alto, California, that he found a solution to his problem. It was then that WYNN was introduced to Sean. Jintamai saw the benefits of Sean being able to read independently. She immediately bought WYNN for Sean to use at home. “I never will forget seeing Sean surfing the Internet and listening to technical writing. He was completely enchanted by his new-found freedom.”
From that point on, Sean began to find school a bit easier. Subject matter became more focused on knowledge and research. He now had an instantly available “reader.” Anything he had to read, he could, “scan and save as an audio file," states Sean.
“Nobody likes to ask for help all the time. I think that when Sean was finally introduced to WYNN, he felt freedom. I think just knowing that if he needed to have something read to him, having WYNN there was liberating!” explains Jintamai.
Road to Independence
Sean not only brought WYNN into his school world in America, but also abroad. He spent grades 7 through 10 in Thailand. During these years the learning specialists were impressed with how proficient Sean had become with using WYNN to read and expand his academic success. They were inspired by Sean’s commitment to acquire knowledge and to enjoy learning. In order to bring this motivation to others, Sean was asked to participate at a conference for learning technology and also to present WYNN at the International School of Bangkok.
When asked why he thought WYNN has been so helpful to him in his quest to achieve success in his academic life, Sean replied, “It has allowed me to be an independent reader. I do not have to adjust to the time schedule of others. I am in complete control of my time.” He furthered added that he finds WYNN’s Web features to be a valuable time saver. “I have the ability to extract directly from the Web, without needing to cut and paste.”
Sean has been involved in many activities over his school years. One he is particularly proud of is being captain of the Sacred Heart High School Robotics Team. His team participated in a competition organized by FIRST Robotics. The FIRST Robotics Competition is a multinational competition that teams professionals and young people to solve an engineering design problem in an intense and competitive way. His team took 2nd place in the University of California, Davis regional competition!
As we mentioned, Sean will be attending Cornell University this fall. WYNN will be going with him. Cornell will be helping Sean by scanning many of his textbooks. Sean foresees using not only WYNN’s reading features, but also many of WYNN’s study skill features such as Highlight, List, Voice Notes, and Text Notes to enhance his studying habits while undertaking the challenge of being an engineering major. Sean says he has recently discovered WYNN’s Save to Audio feature. “I can really see myself saving my scanned materials or my Web research info and listening to it while I am away from my computer.”
“We are so very grateful to the people at Freedom Scientific, Learning Systems Group for WYNN. This software has allowed Sean to continue to enjoy his love of learning in his own independent way,” says Jintamai. “It has allowed people to see Sean as the person he is, not a person with a disability. Thank you!”
We think that Sean may be an inspiration to many learning disabled students in college, so we asked Sean if he would be interested in reporting back to us later in the year as to how he is managing college life. He readily agreed and said that he would be happy to share information about dealing with dyslexia in college. We look forward to hearing his insights on this important topic. Good luck Sean!
Keep an Eye on the News
Scientific Research Supporting WYNN
We are pleased to announce the publication of a white paper called "Scientific Research Supporting WYNN." This white paper validates the features in WYNN by citing research that supports each feature. It focuses on the problems that struggling students can encounter in their education and the WYNN features that can help with those problems. It emphasizes methods such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) that can help all students, not just students with identified disabilities.
The white paper is organized in five sections:
- Initial Research – the older studies that first validated computer use and text-to-speech
- Reading Fluency
- Reading Comprehension
- Written Composition
- Other Studies – including cost, plus psychological and emotional benefits of assistive technology
For your convenience, an abstract of the white paper can be found in the Resources section of the LSG Web site at http://www.freedomscientific.com/lsg/resources/Scientific-Research-WP.asp.
You may request a copy of the white paper online at Contact Freedom Scientific or by calling Loni Atton at 1-800-444-4443 Ext. 1032.
New Webinar Series on Assistive Technology
The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) announces a new Educational Webinar series!
The goal of the ATIA Webinar Series is to increase awareness of the innovative assistive technologies and services that enhance learning, working, and independence for people with disabilities. This series is targeted at educators, rehab professionals, assistive technology specialists, individuals with disabilities and their families, and others who are looking to broaden their knowledge of assistive technology and the evaluation skills needed to assess the products. The Webinars offer a variety of informative topics. For complete details about this Webinar series, please go to the ATIA Web site.
Don’t forget the ATIA Conference in Chicago is October 28-31, 2009.
Freedom Scientific/Learning Systems Group will present the following workshops:
- Powerful Access to the Internet using WYNN 5.1 – Friday, October 30, from 8 AM to 9 AM
- Atomic Learning and WYNN Provide Universal Design for Learning – Friday, October 30, from 1:15 PM to 3:15 PM
21st-Century Teacher Education: How Schools of Education are Ramping Up Efforts to Prepare Future Teachers
eSchool News presents a Special Report for Today’s Educators. Discover how schools of education are preparing soon-to-be teachers for the future, the different types of technologies being taught to these future teachers, and how technologically-sophisticated classrooms will affect learning. You can also read comments from students who are enrolled in schools of education.
US Department of Education Issues Rules on Ed-Tech Stimulus Funds
Read a new report that guides states and schools on how best to use the money to spur achievement. (See eSchoolNews.com for more information.)
New Feature for WYNNing Word!
Lesson of the Month
We know there are many wonderful teachers and students using WYNN to improve study habits, to develop a love of reading and research, to encourage academic achievement, and to develop good self-esteem.
You have terrific ideas to reach these goals that all of us would love to hear about. So we are asking you to send us one of your lesson plans using WYNN. It can be for any subject area and any grade level. If you are a student, we would love to hear about the lesson and why it was such a benefit to you. We will choose one each month to share with our readers. If your lesson plan is chosen, you will receive a FREE WYNN Training Module CD.
So take a minute to share, and perhaps introduce another teacher or student to the joys of learning with technology! Please email your lesson plan or story to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax it to 772-461-2812.
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About Freedom Scientific LSG
Freedom Scientific, Learning Systems Group provides products that are acclaimed for their easy-to-use interface, innovative technology, and flexible but powerful features. Designed by educational experts to enhance the learning process for struggling students, WYNN provides reading and writing solutions. Freedom Scientific LSG also created TestTalker, which provides test-taking preparations and worksheet completion. To find out more about our products, please visit us at www.freedomscientific.com/lsg.