2001 Conference Proceedings

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Lucinda Ray
Director of Curriculum Development
IntelliTools, Inc.
1720 Corporate Circle
Petaluma, CA 94954
Phone: 707-773-2000
Fax: 707-773-2001
E-mail: jray@intellitools.com 

Suzanne Feit
Product Development and Training Specialist
E-mail: sfeit@intellitools.com

In this session, participants will be introduced to two important tools that provide success for early readers. A research-based reading program with a balanced literacy approach, IntelliTools Reading: Balanced Literacy(TM), and IntelliTalk II(R), a talking word processor with graphic support. These tools offer a rich instructional environment to support ongoing language arts instruction and to provide accessible learning activities for all students.

Reading is a crucial part of the learning process. Many children need extra support as they acquire the skills and experiences that will make them successful and confident readers. Because of physical or developmental disabilities, some children may be unable to hold a book or pencil, or handle a standard keyboard. Others may need extra visual or auditory reinforcement. Still others may need structured practice to master basic concepts.

IntelliTools Reading was designed for all students, including those with physical or cognitive disabilities. IntelliTools Reading provides a balanced approach to early literacy instruction for beginning readers. It integrates guided reading, supported writing, and word study or phonics activities. Nine units, built around animal themes, engage students in a yearlong program designed to support and supplement their classroom language arts curriculum. Students with disabilities are often at a disadvantage, as they can not access traditional reading programs or writing tools. IntelliTools Reading is completely accessible to children with special needs, including physical or learning disabilities and developmental delays.

The development of literacy skills in school-age children has become a national priority. A successful reading program must contain many important components that offer instruction in phonics, word identification, reading of connected text, the chance to read self-selected text and opportunities for the student to express themselves in writing. All of these components are unified into a seamless, theme-based instructional program.

IntelliTools Reading contains all of these important components of a successful program. It features:

IntelliTalk II is an interactive, talking word processor. It is designed to help students meet the challenges of reading and writing and experience success by giving each student the support they need. It is a fully accessible program allowing students to practice their writing skills using a standard keyboard, IntelliKeys, mouse, and switches. By using IntelliTalk II with its overlays for IntelliKeys, on-screen palettes, and opportunities for cooperative learning, all students are provided with rich opportunities to write.

IntelliTalk II contains the following important features:

All text can be read aloud, letter-by-letter, word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence, or in its entirety, giving Auditory support for writers and ensuring that instructions and choices can be both read and heard.

Graphics can be integrated into documents, providing support for beginning readers and enhancing the flexibility of the program to create learning activities, quizzes, and student reports.

The Palettes feature of the program enables you to support student writing by creating word banks, answer choices, text chunks. These palettes can also be scanned with a switch or used to make IntelliKeys overlays.

Text in documents and templates can be locked, so that the same template can be used by many students without overwriting the activity that has been created.

Answer fields can be placed within locked text to provide space for student responses in predictable places.

Student documents can be organized by groups (such as classes) and into individual folders, making it easy for you to create student writing portfolios for ongoing assessment.

IntelliTalk II also encourages cooperative learning in the classroom. IntelliTalk II can be used in a regular classroom, a full inclusion setting, a lab setting, or a resource program. Students can work independently or cooperatively in the various activities.

IntelliTalk II fosters independence. The activities included with the program guide students through a variety of writing activities, quizzes, games, and reports. Teacher's can individualize the activities provided in the program so that each student is working at his or her optimum level.

Using the Writing Resource CD: Graphics and Writing Resources

IntelliTalk II is an ideal tool to use to extend and reinforce the reading and writing activities presented in IntelliTools Reading. IntelliTalk II is a powerful mechanism for developing and delivering customized curriculum activities. IntelliTools Reading has carefully constructed lessons that provide a wealth of activities that can be expanded and extended for additional classroom practice. The two programs work hand-in-hand to allow teachers to offer their students a comprehensive reading and writing program that is correlated with national standards.

The Writing Resource CD contains 40-50 writing activities for use with IntelliTalk II and hundreds of program graphics to support them. These writing activities correlate with each of the nine units of IntelliTools Reading and provide lesson plans for using the activities.

The Writing Resource CD also contains a valuable and extensive collection of hundreds of graphic images from the program. Teachers can use these graphics to create their own worksheets, word cards, posters, and activities.

This workshop will focus on the activity templates on the Writing Resource CD as well as strategies for modifying them, customizing activities to meet the specific needs of the student, and creating additional extension activities. Participants will be introduced to several IntelliTalk II templates that use concepts and content from the reading program. They will explore the templates and learn how to modify them in a variety of ways.

The reading program is geared toward students at a first grade reading program. Using the Writing Resource CD templates, teachers can take advantage of the flexible structure and design of these templates to create activities that are appropriate for older students. Or, the templates can be modified to work with other stories, writing, or word study work that you already use with your students.

The Writing Resource CD templates give teachers the ability to adapt and extend any reading programs that their school may have adopted. It also gives them the power to take a program that is not accessible and build in accessibility for IntelliKeys and switch users. No longer do teachers have to feel frustrated with the lack of accessible reading materials. No longer do students need to feel limited by their physical or cognitive disability.

The templates on the Writing Resource CD cover a range of lessons. Participants will explore activities that incorporate creating words by matching an onset with a rime. An onset is defined as the first consonant or consonant cluster at the beginning of a single syllable word. A rime begins with the first vowel in a single syllable word. Writing with onsets and rimes provides exposure to many words beginning with the target onset sound. It allows students to practice with letter/sound correspondence and it trains students to see onset and rime sounds in the context of connected text.

Participants will use templates that allow a student to write word-by-word, helping the student develop an awareness of language patterns, develop sequencing and syntactic skills, develop writing fluency by selecting a whole word at a time, and providing an opportunity for immediate feedback and self-correction.

Participants will have an opportunity to use letter-by-letter writing templates that provide practice with decodable words and writing fluency. These activities also give spelling practice and the opportunity to write words more freely.

In using these templates, participants will learn the many options built into IntelliTalk II that allow them to modify, customize and extend an activity. They will learn how to customize fonts and voices to provide a lively environment for student writing and playwriting.

They will learn how to import their own graphics and digital images to create an activity that has a content level appropriate for a beginning reader but an interest level appropriate for the older student.

They will learn how to modify on-screen palettes, picture items, and actions to incorporate many different areas of study. Writing is not just confined to language arts; it can extend to other subject areas such as math, social studies, and science.


IntelliTools Reading: Balanced Literacy and IntelliTalk II are powerful programs. The materials and lessons included in these programs are intended to help the student be an involved and effective learner. Their true power is evident in the excitement that takes place when students use these activities to write, communicate, report on learning, and explore ideas!

Teachers who attend this session will learn about the successful NIH-funded research that led to the development of IntelliTools Reading and see the finished product. Attendees will also see writing activities that correlate with the IntelliTools Reading content, using IntelliTalk II, a multimedia word processor, and a Resource CD that includes 45 writing activities and hundreds of program graphics to support them . The presenters will show how these activities can be adapted for individual student needs.

Participants will receive a research report, sample lessons, and a demo CD (fully functional except for printing and saving) that will allow them to review and share what they have learned. Programs are available for both Macintosh and Windows platforms.

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