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Leveraging Technology To Support Students With Written Expression Difficulties In French Immersion

2109 words - 9 pages


The first stage of the writing process involves planning and organizing what is to be written through activities including thinking, brainstorming, reading, researching and observing. According to Scott and Vitale (2003), the prewriting stage comprises nearly half of the time spent on the writing process. Students with disabilities in the French immersion program encounter the same types of challenges as regular program students including challenges determining the purpose, topic, and audience for their writing. They may also have difficulty selecting which ideas and points should be included and how they should be organized.
Examples of low-tech supports may include picture or word ...view middle of the document...

There are several assistive technology supports that can be used to assist students learning French with the drafting stage such as word processing applications, word prediction, speech recognition and symbol based software. Low-tech tools such as the ones mentioned in the prewriting phase may also useful with drafting and should be considered first. High-tech tools can be used in combination with low and mid-tech tools to provide the best match for the student.
Word processing programs such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs support many different languages and can be set to French for use by students in the French immersion program. All features such as spelling and grammar checker will then function in French to support the student. Word processing programs such as Microsoft Word automatically correct minor spelling errors and capitalize words when typing. Sentences and paragraphs can be moved with in the document by highlighting and dragging the selection to the new location. New text can also be inserted anywhere in the document. A wide variety of formatting options are available including changes to the size, style and colour of the text to make it accessible to more students. Further modifications to word processing programs can be made through the use of adapted keyboards or on screen keyboards, which are operated via scanning or optical mouse (Petersen-Karlan, Hourcade & Parette, 2008). A portable word processor such as the AlphaSmart Neo (Renaissance Learning Inc., 2004) is a great mid-tech tool to consider as it is a word processor that acts much they same as a digital typewriter. Using the AlphaSmart Neo (Renaissance Learning Inc., 2004) eliminates some of the distractions associated with word processing on a computer such as the ability to play with customizations and access to the Internet.
Word prediction software can help students during word processing by predicting a word the student intends to use. Predictions are based on spelling, syntax, and frequent or recent use of a word depending on the manufacturer of the program. This type of compensatory support prompts students who struggle with writing to use proper spelling, grammar and word choice. Word predication can also provide the slow or reluctant writer a means of developing and entering text confidently without spending all their time worrying about which letter comes next, or finding the right keys. Software that has the text to speech feature allows the student the added benefit of hearing the words in the choice list read to them, ensuring the chosen word makes sense. Whole sentences and paragraphs can also be read back to the student. Word prediction can reduce the time, effort and frustration level when writing for students with disabilities (Swenson, Wirkus & Obukowitz, 2009). Word Q (Quillsoft Ltd., n.d.) word prediction software is available in French and the prediction feature works very accurately. The text-to speech feature; however, is not as...

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