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"Tech Tools for a Better School Year" [Video Replay & Podcast #192]

In this hour-long webinar-on-demand, learn the tech tools that help students with ADHD with Janet DeSenzo.

4 Comments: "Tech Tools for a Better School Year" [Video Replay & Podcast #192]

  1. Question for the speaker – Janet DeSenzo:
    Our son is almost 12 and going into 6th grade next week. This will be a big change for him from a small, Christian school to a large, public middle school! But it appears that he will get MORE help for ADHD and dyslexia issues so we are excited! (As an aside, we just found out 3 days ago that the private school he has attended since preschool decided they couldn’t accommodate him now so we are all in a big time crunch before school starts and of course he is very anxious now!) The new middle school will be issuing him a small lap-top this week after enrollment (all kids get one). Realistically, we wonder what technology can help him at this school? Of course each school is different and we will check into this but perhaps we could learn from the speaker BEFORE speaking with our own professionals at school just what tech could be used. He also has dysgraphia so it actually hurts him in certain ways to write and his writing is very messy. His organizational skills are very minimal as is his ability to deal with time. With having classes in different rooms now and having 5 min between classes, having to use a combination lock to get into his locker during this short time, etc. we are anticipating quite a difficult time for him. We do plan to take him on a tour of each class and walk the path, have him open his locker and get the book(s) and supplies needed, get to the next classroom, etc. several times before school starts which should help him. We are quite tech-challenged parents on top of it all! Thanks in advance.

    1. I understand why your son might be anxious. This public school setting will be very different and 6th grade can be a challenge, both academically and emotionally. That being said, public schools generally do have more resources to support students who learn differently. It’s good to hear that all of the students will have laptops. This removes any stigma that he might perceive as being “different” from the other students. I’m not sure what platform he’ll be using (i.e., Windows? Mac? Chromebook?) but here are some tech tools that I might consider:

      1. I would recommend that he have access to text-to-speech, for website, books and his own writing. In middle school, much learning is achieved through independent reading and he’ll need access to those reading materials. There are free text-to-speech tools available on all platforms these days. I’d discuss this with his case managers.
      2. To assist with writing, I would have your son practice using voice recognition so that he can speak his sentences/answers. Again, this technology is available on just about all platforms, through free apps or built into device operating systems. Keep in mind that the effective use of voice recognition takes patience and practice. It’s a skill that needs to be developed.
      3. Since this sounds like it’s the first year he’s using a locker, I would color-code his book covers by subject. This will help him grab what he needs quickly during locker visits.
      4. Finally, I would check with his teachers to see if they post assignments online. This would be a great help, especially when it comes to long term planning of papers and projects. It not only assists with keeping class resources organized but allows teachers to hold students to a higher level of accountability.
      I wish your son the best of luck in his new school!

  2. Question for the presenter- Janet DeSenzo:
    My son is in 4th grade- and has severe ADHD. Discussions with the Spec. Ed. Coord. and classroom teacher included a talk about possible technology to assist with his note-taking and assignments due to how difficult it is for him to write nicely/legibly in a short time frame. My husband and I go back and forth on if this will be helping him (by being less frustrated, and to complete work with his classmates), or if it will hurt him by losing opportunities to practice and work on handwriting. Any suggestions are welcome- thank you!

    1. Thanks for posting – this is a great question. I think what’s most important to keep in mind is the goal of the task. If the goal is to be able to take good notes that can be studied and reviewed later on, and this is better achieved using keyboarding, then by all means, allow him to keyboard. Same goes for assignments. By 4th grade, there are going to be fewer opportunities in school, to practice handwriting as an isolated skill. So, if this is an area where you’d like to see improvement, I might purchase some penmanship workbooks and have him practice a page each night at home.
      Another thing you might keep in mind is that, as he gets older, he will be using handwriting less and less. Written papers will need to be typed and online assessments will be more commonplace. That being said, there may be times when he will be expected to hand-write tests. If his handwriting interferes with the ability to easily read test answers, then it may be appropriate to ask as an accommodation, that test answers can be typed (especially if he has been diagnosed with dysgraphia.)

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