Thursday, March 22, 2012

Word Q for struggling and reluctant writers

What is WordQ (the simple explanation)?
I have been using WordQ in my grade 3 class since the beginning of the year.  WordQ is a word prediction software that my school purchased as a site license (for the entire school).  The way the software works is as the student writes, the software will predict, based on letter combinations as they type, what the 5 most likely words they are typing would be.  The student can then select the word that fits.  The software will also read the word choices to the kids if they can't read them as well as put them into a sample sentence.  For some words it also gives synonyms. They can also have the sentence or paragraph read back to them.

How we use it?
I introduced all of my students to the software and had all of them use it at the beginning of the year.  As the year progressed, some students stopped using it as it became cumbersome. For others it is an invaluable tool for their writing in all subjects.  Different students use it differently:
1. regular word prediction
2. increase typing speed by selecting the words instead of typing them all (especially for my reluctant writers)
3. read back to them for editing  (Does it have punctuation? Does it make sense?)

What I have noticed?
- struggling writers are more confident and developing their sounds
- reluctant writers write more because the software does a lot of the typing for them
- students are looking for better word choices for their writing
- helps them listen to their writing and improve it for clarity

Next Steps:
My next step is to explore SpeakQ which is an extension of WordQ.  It is a speech to text software.  In other words, students speak into a microphone on the computer and it converts the audio to typed text.