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Freedom Scientific LSG Presents
The WYNNing Word WYNNing Word
May 2, 2005

Last month we visited with Molly Sequeira of St. Matthew's Catholic School in Charlotte, NC and learned how TestTalker has helped her struggling students. This month we visit again with Mrs. Sequeira to learn how TestTalker is incorporated into classes at St. Matthew's.

"We are meeting the kids' needs and they are succeeding."

" We use TestTalker in fifth grade and with one fourth grade teacher, primarily in social studies, science and reading,” said Mrs. Sequeira. Because St. Matthew's is a parochial school they are not required to have IEP's for their students, instead they use Accommodation Plans that acknowledge a learning difference and list classroom accommodations that will be made to facilitate the learning process. "Even without specific state requirements for IEP's we still recognize when our kids need more assistance. One of the most common recommendations made for any student with a reading difficulty is that all tests should be administered orally. This is difficult to do with limited teacher time and that's when TestTalker helps us the most.”

"Our school is always forward thinking when it comes to technology,” explained Mrs. Sequeira. "Every student has had computer classes since kindergarten and there are two computers in every classroom. Additionally, students are allowed to do as much homework on the computer as they'd like. In third grade they start researching on the computer and by the fourth grade they start PowerPoint presentations.” It's this learning environment that made TestTalker so successful.

Teachers can't always read tests to students and assistants are not available either so Mrs. Sequeira scans tests for all the teachers. "Scanning is quite easy. I've got it down to a science,” said Mrs. Sequeira proudly. "I can scan a six page test in about 20 minutes, including the time needed for modifications. ”Unfortunately, the only computer with TestTalker is in the library. The school has applied for grant money to expand TestTalker into all third through fifth grade classrooms so teachers can scan during their planning periods and students will have more access to the program.

"We had some teachers, as well as students, that were hesitant to use TestTalker. I think they were afraid of the technology,” explained Mrs. Sequeira. "Their attitudes changed when they realized that it makes life easier. Teachers learned that TestTalker allows them to spend more time with students that need assistance during a test."

While Mrs. Sequeira acknowledged that they have had some students who did not like being singled out, she emphasized, "We are trying to show them that TestTalker is only a tool that allows them to demonstrate just how much they do know. At the elementary level, one of the reasons to give a test is so that the students can be taught test taking skills.” Other students have commented that since there is often another class in the library, it can be too loud during testing with TestTalker. "We hope that as we get the student version into all the classrooms that these issues will go away. We're meeting the kids' needs and they are succeeding.”

Thank you Molly for sharing your story. We all appreciate knowing what techniques work to enhance the success of our students!

ASK-the-EXPERT: The WYNNing Word has been designed to help educators learn more about literacy issues and apply proven methods in the classroom. Freedom Scientific's resident expert, Lynn Regan, will answer your questions in her monthly column. To submit questions, please

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