2003 Conference Proceedings

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STRATEGIES AND TECHNOLOGY: PRACTICAL CLASSROOM APPLICATIONS TO SUPPORT STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

Presenter
Sherry Keenan
South Kitsap School District/Burley Glenwood Elementary
100 SW Lakeway Blvd
Port Orchard, WA
360 271-5759 Home
360 876-7349 Work
360 373-3060 FAX
Email: skeenan@telebyte.com

Suzanne Stephan
Entiat School District
2650 Entiat Way
Entiat WA 98822
509-784-1911 Work
509 784-2988 FAX
Email: sstephan@entiatschools.org

Rozalind Rodgers
Housel Middle School
2001 Highland Dr.
Prosser, WA 99350
509 786-1732

An elementary, middle school, and high school teacher will share their classroom strategies for addressing the reading and writing needs of students with learning disabilities.

Effective teaching strategies are essential for the educational success of students with learning disabilities. As each student has their own processing style that works best, and their own set of strengths and weaknesses, addressing those needs in a classroom setting can be a challenge. In addition to struggles with reading, writing, and comprehension, self esteem can also be impacted by students who learn differently. Recent data from project teachers involved in the Learning Disabilities and Technology grant in the state of Washington, suggests that students improved academic performance in reading, writing, and attitude while using assistive technology.

The Learning Disability and Technology grant provided the participating classrooms with computer hardware, software, and training that focused on improving reading and writing. Because of the success of the LD and Technology Grant, a second grant program, NO LIMIT LD and Math Project was implemented. The NO LIMIT LD and Math Project promotes mathematics problem solving and higher order thinking for learning disabled students. Reading and writing are also incorporated into the math curriculum through the use of assistive technology.

Of the various assistive technologies provided by the grant, Research showed the WYNN software program to be the most widely used. Over 50% of the students stated that WYNN provided the most help of all the assistive technologies and mainstream software available to them. Additionally, the teachers were queried as to which grant-provided hardware and software items they would keep if they could choose only 3 of each. By far, the most commonly selected software item was WYNN (85%). WYNN was initially chosen to be included in the grants after thorough evaluation of similar programs, because of the many functions it provides and the simple to learn and use interface.

WYNN is an all-in-one, text-to-speech, reading, word processing, and studying tool. It provides superior OCR for scanning printed materials and reading of the text through the program's speech synthesis. The speech output is very clear and can be customized. WYNN provides the ability to easily customize the visual presentation of the material to match the users' needs. Other features include a talking dictionary and thesaurus, bookmarking and highlighting, word prediction, and text or voice annotation. WYNN also provides access to the Internet, reading Internet web sites to the user. After only minimal interaction time with the program, staff and students reported that they were able to use most of WYNN's many features. Additional training was included as part of the grant to ensure successful integration into the curriculum.

The specific areas being addressed by WYNN in the project classrooms are reading, writing, vocabulary development, study strategies, Internet access (research), and project-related Math. WYNN's user interface, based on four color-coded rotating task bars, has been instrumental in the utilization of these many functions. Toggling between functions and eliminating the need to use "pull downs" significantly reduces the cognitive load for struggling students.

This presentation will provide three perspectives on how WYNN has been integrated into a classroom curriculum to support the educational objectives of students with learning disabilities. An elementary school teacher will address how she uses WYNN to support her students reading and writing needs, to teach vocabulary development, and to customize materials to meet the needs of her students. A middle school teacher will address how she modifies the visual presentation of classroom assignments, textbooks, and the Internet to address each student's needs. She will also provide strategies for enabling independence in reading and writing and increasing comprehension. A high school teacher will demonstrate how her students use WYNN to help them with higher level writing, including utilization of functions such as auditory feedback, word prediction, dictionary, and thesaurus, leveling the playing field in their regular classes. She will also address how her students are improving their math skills by incorporating WYNN into problem-based learning. Each of the teachers will address how they present materials from a variety of sources using a multi-modal approach. Specific examples of lessons and procedures will be provided.

Classroom teachers that work with students who have learning disabilities in grades 4 - 12, will share their experiences and knowledge in implementing WYNN and integrating it into their daily curriculum. WYNN has changed how these teachers teach. They will share how to effectively use WYNN for a variety of learning problems and situations in the classroom.


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