2001 Conference Proceedings

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The AlphaSmart in the Writing Process

Terry Hamman and Randy Meyer
AlphaSmart
www.alphasmart.com

Can technology make an impact on the writing process when there are not enough computers for students? Most classrooms or schools do not have a computer for every student. The AlphaSmart keyboard can give access to all students who keyboard in a simple and affordable technology package.

Writing occurs across the curriculum and changes as students develop. The first three grades are typically spent with students learning to write. Beginning in the fourth grade, students write to learn. Students in special education frequently do not fit this time frame but teachers who work with these students must be aware of this progression. There are times when a student is still learning to write but is being pressured to write to learn and this typically results in frustration and failure.

Writing is a very difficult task for many students for many reasons. For some students the use of a keyboard is much simpler both physically and cognitively than paper and pencil. An electronic format is much more forgiving and fluid than the paper and pencil method. Teachers and schools struggle with providing the needed technology to all students fairly and equitably. The AlphaSmart is not a replacement for a computer but is a companion and can be used in many situations where computers aren’t accessible or there simply are not enough. Information can be printed directly from an AlphaSmart as well as sent from an AlphaSmart to a computer and sent from a computer to an AlphaSmart quickly and easily.

In this session the participants will learn how to connect and send information from an AlphaSmart to a computer. They will also learn to how use the Get Utility and send information from the computer into the AlphaSmart. The AlphaSmart 3000 has a new feature called SmartApplets. This allows a user to add programs or applications which provide additional functions. Participants will use Co:Writer – a word prediction program; KeyWords – a language based keyboarding program; and Quiz Maker – a program that allows teachers to design and administer tests and quizzes on an AlphaSmart.

Participants will also learn how to adapt the AlphaSmart 3000. The keyboard can be arranged in several different formats including QWERTY, Dvorak, and for one handed keyboarding with either the right or left hand. Sticky keys as well as auto repeat can be utilized. In addition there are several keyguards that can be purchased to add to the AlphaSmart.

There are many reading and writing strategies that are successful when used consistently. Technology can be a significant tool in all of these strategies and curriculums. Techniques to integrate technology as well as classroom management techniques will be shared and discussed.


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