Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Using Audacity to Help LD Kids Write

Thomas is a grade 6 boy and has a learning diability. Actually he has more than one. He might have something called Central Auditory Processing Disorder. He has difficulties at times coming up with the right word when speaking. He has incredible difficulties writing sentences.

A sentence for Thomas saying "I am going to the store to buy a hammer and some nails" might come out like "sotre hammre buy nail".

But, Thomas has ideas just like every other kid. It has been so long since has gotten his ideas out, though, so that he no longer thinks of himself as a writer, or that he has great stories to tell.

Thomas can talk. I put him in front of a computer, and opened up the program Audacity. It is an open-source program that can record your voice, and save it as a sound clip. I plugged in a mic and some headphones for better sound quality. Then I did some brainstorming out loud with Thomas on a topic he enjoys - dirtbikes and quads. I taught him how to record a sentence, rewind, and play it back, pausing after each couple words. He would then write the words out by hand. However, I noticed that he had some difficulties with spelling too. Thomas would spell the word "wheels" as "whelles". He knew there was a double letter in the word, but not which one. I thought that MS Word could help with this, so he began typing out two words at a time while he listened to his own sentences. This is an excerpt - sentences 5 and 6:

Three are deferent cines of quads there are some quads meet for racing and some are off road. Dirt bikes can do different tricks . you can do a superman grab on a dirt bike.

This is more output in 5 minutes than he does in his classroom in 20 minutes. He needs someone to brainstorm and rehearse his ideas with out loud. He needs practice using Audacity, and he needs practice using MS Word to spell check. After seeing his results, his teacher predicts that this is the way he will pass 6th grade. I am excited, and cautiosly optimistic. I work with him again on Friday, so stay tuned!

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