Freedom Scientific Learning Systems Group Presents
Enthusiasm Soars for WYNN Among Vocational & Academic Teachers
“WYNN is unique in that it is a multi-faceted lifespan program,”
states Sue, a speech pathologist at the Deron School of New Jersey.
The Deron Schools endeavor to provide a learning environment that enables each individual to achieve their maximum potential. As this mission statement continues, Comprehensive programs promote the development of independence and social skills in preparing students for productive, successful futures.
Their efforts include finding appropriate technology programs that will enhance the learning environment of each of their students. Maureen Mayer, Supervisor of Vocational Education, had been investigating reading programs when she attended a workshop on assistive technology offered by Dr. Amy Dell from CATIES Center at The College of New Jersey. After seeing the presentation on WYNN, Maureen invited Dr. Dell to come to the Deron School to demonstrate WYNN, as well as other assistive technology, to the school administrators. The administrators were in full agreement that WYNN would provide incomparable benefits to their students. WYNN was purchased for their Montclair, New Jersey, site.
To understand why the Deron administrators thought WYNN would be an excellent fit into their learning environment, let's look at some information about the school’s student population. The Deron School offers educational programs for learning-disabled students ages 5 to 21 who cannot be served in a regular classroom setting. The school is considered to be a receiving school for local school districts. If a district does not have an appropriate program for one of their learning-disabled students, the district must find one that does meet the student’s needs, a placement such as The Deron School. Generally a Child Study Team, or occasionally a parent, will contact the school. The child’s records will be sent for review, a determination will be made, and if the placement is deemed appropriate, the Child Study Team, the parents, and the student will visit the school to make the final determination of acceptance. Tuition is paid for by the sending district.
The Deron Schools have two campuses. The one in Union, New Jersey, which was previously approved for students 5 to 13 years of age, has most recently been approved to extend services to students through 21 years of age. Their other location is in Montclair, New Jersey, and currently has about 150 students coming from 27 towns covering at least 5 different counties. The students at this location range in age from 13 to 21. All have significant learning disabilities. The students have functioning levels ranging from pre-kindergarten to about eighth grade.
Maureen Mayer said that all their students struggle with reading, comprehension, and writing. She began to elaborate on why she was so impressed with WYNN. “Even though the class size is small (generally no more than 11 students to 2 staff members), there is still a wide range of ability within the group. WYNN allows us to tailor the material to meet each individual’s needs.”
Maureen continued to explain that most of the students have difficulty with writing, especially in the use of verb tenses and spelling. She said, “WYNN’s ability to read text aloud is proving to be invaluable in a student’s capability to identify mistakes themselves and correct them.”
She added, “So many of our students have struggled with reading all of their lives. If they see something that has a lot of writing on it, they won’t even try to read it. WYNN not only allows them to change the format of the text, it allows them to control the rate at which they are receiving the information.” Maureen emphasized, “This is very important with our students who have significant processing problems.”
Knowing that the basics of WYNN could enhance learning, Maureen arranged for teacher training in order to familiarize the staff with WYNN. She also wanted to encourage them to delve deeper into WYNN's many extended features that could make a difference in the academic lives of their students. Two two-hour training sessions were presented. The staff was divided into two groups for the trainings: one consisting of academic teachers and assistants, and the other consisting of vocational and speech department staff (including music and physical education). “The staff was so interested in the program that the workshop ran overtime,” exclaimed Maureen.
Not wanting to lose the momentum, a plan was devised to continue the training and learning of WYNN. The enthusiastic staff members would meet to develop lesson plans on how to use the features of WYNN to enhance student learning and confidence. The staff would then present their lessons to the rest of the school’s staff. The developers of the lesson plans, as well as the attendees, will receive Continuing Education Units (CEUs).
The presentation session has not taken place as yet (see Update below), but some of the teachers and students have already begun to react to the power of WYNN:
- Debbie Sumowski, a classroom teacher, has been using the 30-hour trial CD on her computer at home to help her experiment with the program’s different features. She has also spoken with WYNN’s regional representative, Mike Wood, who has been available for questions and suggestions about using WYNN within the classroom. Debbie said that her first step in having her students become acquainted with WYNN was to have them read materials in her Science and Social Studies classes using the read-aloud feature. She continued, “Next, I had the students take a test using WYNN. I am finding that having the computer read the test to them is an excellent way to assess their knowledge and retention of the material. I can test their true understanding of the information, not their reading skills.”
- Paula Wickersty, another classroom teacher who teaches Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts, said, “I like the fact that it reads the information to the student. I know that the student has a much better success rate in understanding the material.” Paula likes the dictionary feature and has begun to introduce her students to using WYNN to look up unknown words during their reading. “I also really like the fact that the students can learn how to make outlines to take notes.” The school has signed up for Bookshare™ and will have access to Bookshare’s extensive online library. Paula is excited. “Using WYNN with Bookshare we will now be able to have our students read more literature. We will soon read Huckleberry Finn!”
- Sue Kopas, a speech pathologist, said, “We are using WYNN as a tool to augment the student’s present reading ability. We are using it with students where other conventional teaching methods have not been successful.” When asked which features she liked, Sue responded, “I especially like the syllables/phonetic spelling feature. When students with reading difficulties look at multi-syllabic words, they often have difficulty separating the words into syllables. With WYNN they can sound the words out and read them appropriately and accurately. This feature really helps them.”
- Lisbeth Schnuman, another speech pathologist, anticipates, “By using the system pathways, new routes of learning will be discovered with WYNN.” She continued, “We are seeing that by altering the auditory and visual presentation, students can personalize text to meet their needs. Organization, comprehension, and recall of written information are now more achievable goals for our students.”
- The sewing teacher is working on scanning pattern directions into WYNN, and the physical education teacher is investigating using WYNN’s Web Tool to have his students find information on the Internet.
- Khaalid, a student, plainly stated, “It makes me feel more independent with my school work.”
As Sue concluded, “WYNN is unique in that it is a multi-faceted lifespan program.”
The students and staff of The Deron School of New Jersey are off to a good start in orienting staff and students to the benefits of WYNN that will help to enhance the learning environment for each of their students. We are looking forward to seeing some of the lesson plans that the teachers develop as they and their students implement WYNN into their classroom activities.
Update: As previously mentioned, Maureen intends to host lesson planning sessions in the near future. As of this WYNNing Word posting, she informed us that her woodshop teacher, Jim Monahan, had received a quick lesson on scanning from Mike Wood. Jim was so impressed with how scanning could be accomplished so easily that he decided to team up with Beth Varkala, the art teacher, and Debbie Sumowski, the social studies teacher, on a project. They are planning to scan rocket reading material into WYNN, and develop vocabulary and study guides that will be exported to an MP3 player. The final project is to build rockets in the woodshop. This sounds like a terrific idea. The teachers are using auditory, visual, and kinesthetic input to insure their students succeed. We look forward to reading the rocket building lesson plan and learning about student success.
Keep an Eye on the News
The Rising Tide of Autism:
How your school will be affected and practical strategies you can implement today
Autism-related challenges are growing exponentially, but there are ways to cope. Join the experts in this free Webinar to find out the key steps you must take right now to (a) help these students, (b) protect your assets, and (c) preserve your general curriculum. Tuesday, Nov 10, 2009 - 1:00 PM Eastern Time / 11:00 AM Pacific Time.
Feds Propose Rules for $650M Innovation Fund
The fund, which is part of the historic $5 billion investment in school reform in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will support local efforts to start or expand innovative, research-based programs that help close the achievement gap and improve outcomes for students. (See eSchoolNews.com for more information.)
If you are planning to attend the ATIA in Orlando, Freedom Scientific/Learning Systems Group invites you to attend the following sessions:
- Hook, Line and Sink'em into Learning – Sheri Wiseman - Thursday, January 28, from 2:45 PM to 3:45 PM
- Powerful Access to the Internet using WYNN 5.1 – Mike Wood - Friday, January 29, from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
- Creating Literacy at the Start: Text-To-Speech & Beginning Readers – Ira Socol - Saturday, January 30, from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM
Lesson of the Month
Keeping with the theme of our article, we are including a lesson plan that was presented by Mike Wood at the Deron School of New Jersey during their training workshops. The science teachers were very excited about this example of how to use WYNN within their subject matter. They decided to use the general format of the lesson and apply it to a specific area they are teaching.
To download the lesson, please select Human Body Lesson Plans, and view using Web Layout mode in Microsoft Word.
Win a Free Training CD!
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.