Scientific Learning Systems Group Presents
Give Students Access to Information at their Interest and Comprehension Levels? Just Ask Alex
Alex is a 13-year-old boy in 8th grade at Farnsworth Middle School in Guilderland, New York. He has a great personality and sense of humor. He has many interests and experiences to offer in his communications with students and teachers. Alex loves to learn.
Sounds like a lot of typical 8th graders, doesn't it? But Alex has Cerebral Palsy and Attention Deficit Disorder.
His speech articulation and fine motor skills are the most significantly impacted by his condition. Alex has markedly improved his speech over the last two years by slowing down and taking his time. Now he can be understood by most listeners. While his fine motor skills are intact for many functional and routine tasks, handwriting is very laborious. Alex is ambulatory without devices and takes part in all school activities, but does have access to a teaching assistant for physical assistance for note taking, setting up the computer, scanning materials, etc.
Alex's story was brought to our attention by Pam La Casio. Pam, Alex's Occupational Therapist, has been working with this extraordinary young man since he was in kindergarten. Pam explains that throughout most of elementary school, Alex had an adult available as a scribe for most activities. By 5th grade he started to gain independence using the computer to type written responses with the assistance of "read-back" software.
"While Alex strives to do his best," Pam commented, "Language Arts remains his greatest struggle." She went on to explain that while his math skills are strong, his ability to spell and complete written work are significantly impacted by his difficulty in making many sounds both in isolation and in words. Also, his ability to read is hindered by his intermittent visual attention. He has to make a conscious effort to bring his visual focus back to task and frequently needs assistance from an adult.
As middle school approached, it became obvious that the school district needed to find tools that would help Alex fully experience the advanced curriculum. Since Alex was already finding the computer an excellent aid, Pam researched software that would help to accomplish this goal. Fortunately, Pam attended a session about WYNN at a conference. After comparing WYNN with similar types of software, she found WYNN to be the most user friendly, and offered many features that she knew would enhance Alex's learning experience. Pam introduced WYNN to the district and soon Alex had WYNN, a scanner, and headphones. Alex was now equipped to tackle the curriculum!
"It became immediately evident that Alex now had access to information at his level of interest and understanding versus his actual "reading level."
Pam continued,"He is now able to surf the Web to research different subjects and download information to his laptop as necessary."
She furthered explained that by using the custom visual settings provided by the Green toolbar in WYNN, along with headphones, WYNN has significantly increased Alex’s endurance for working with print. These personalized settings are automatically saved for Alex so each document he opens will always be "reader friendly" for him.
Alex has found WYNN's masking capability to be extremely helpful. Masking helps Alex to stay focused on the reading material by "graying" out all other words.
The choices of masking by line, sentence, or paragraph are offered to the reader on the Green toolbar. Alex prefers to mask by sentence to increase his focus on task.
The Pink toolbar helps Alex when he is working with difficult reading material. The Syllables feature reinforces separate sounds and parts of words that Alex may be unaware of due to his articulation difficulties. "WYNN provides Alex an environment in which the mechanics of writing can be taught in isolation and then assimilated into a document," Pam explains. Alex has become very adept with the Bookmark feature as a way of isolating important information to use for his own notes. He transfers the bookmarked information into a new document using the List feature. He can use that list to build an outline, to create flash cards, or to extract information to put into his Microsoft® PowerPoint® for Jeopardy®. Alex has prepared a Jeopardy game for his class so they could study for a social studies test together.
Alex shared, “Being able to use bookmarks to take my notes has allowed me to be more independent in my studying and research."
Pam also relates that Alex loves to use the Word Prediction feature on the Yellow toolbar.
She has seen that it helps to keep his thoughts flowing by compensating for the lack of speed with his typing.
"Alex has made tremendous academic gains since the introduction of WYNN software," Pam proudly states."He is able to work more independently and, more quickly."
Pam shared that one of their biggest hurdles was to get physical assistance to scan all of his written work. They have been fortunate to have put together an awesome team this year that has made this task happen on a timely and consistent basis. This allows Alex to keep up with the rest of his class. Also to this end, Alex has been able to complete assignments at home with the purchase of WYNN software by his parents. Now, Alex carries assignments back and forth using a jump drive. Not only has WYNN been a great resource for Alex, but also for this class. He has been a great inspiration to his class by being so well versed in the computer and in his ability to search the Web so easily. He is also a member of an after school club where he has been creating a Web page. Quite a role model!
Pam says that his teachers all realize that Alex's attention for reading text is much improved because of the robust capabilities of WYNN.
His reading is becoming more fluent. Mechanics in writing, spelling, organization, and sentence structure are significantly improved using the study skills and highlighting available in WYNN. With everyone realizing that Alex has grown and matured in preparation for high school next year, when Alex moves on to 9th grade, WYNN will accompany him to ensure continued success.
"The potential for independence that WYNN is providing for Alex is wonderful!" exclaims Pam.
In last month's WYNNing Word, Elaine Huot spoke about how her student, Samantha, used WYNN's shortcut keys to enhanced her experience
with WYNN. Alex has found these keys to be extremely useful to him also. For a copy of WYNN's shortcut list, please email WYNNing Word.
Keep an Eye on the News
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Read how this amazing young man is winning his race
to overcome his dyslexia and become an inspiration to
many learning disabled students.
Open-content learning portal debuts 8,000-plus digital learning resources available to teachers and learners at no cost!
To learn more about this resource, see eSchoolNews.com.
ISTE releases draft of new tech standards, "Cognitive and learning skills, as well as creativity and innovation, are the focus now--and information and media literacy are also elevated [in importance]."
Read more about how you may have input into developing the new standards at eSchoolNews.com.
Tip of the Month:
Watch for WYNN 5.1 Training Module CD!
This multimedia training program is a self-guided training tool that enables users to successfully use WYNN. The WYNN training module can be used to introduce new users to WYNN or as a refresher for more experienced WYNN users. To get the WYNN Training Module CD for $25 US plus shipping, please contact Loni Atton at 800-444-4443 Ext. 1032.
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About Freedom Scientific LSG:
Freedom Scientific, Learning Systems Group, headquartered
in Palo Alto, California, 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.