My peer mentee recently came to me to share her concerns regarding a student that has problems with dexterity and motor skills. As a result, his cursive writing is poor and she had struggled to find ways to help him progress. While I was not readily familiar with “adaptive and assistive technologies” (International Society for Technology in Education, 2011), I was eager to work with my collaborating teacher to find a solution that would best help this student.
I started my research by examining Handwriting Without Tears, the curriculum my school has adopted for both print and cursive handwriting instruction. While my fellow teachers are very fond of the curriculum, I was disappointed to find that there is not currently a cursive app available for students. In reviews of Handwriting Without Tears, I found several educators who use Cursive Writing Wizard by L’Escapadou to supplement their lessons. The benefits to this app include:
- Teachers can create individual student accounts and track their progress
- There is a left-handed setting available
- Teachers can import (and export) word lists so students practice with current vocabulary
- There are various color settings for students with various developmental challenges
- The app stores data on each student, including actual copies of student tracing
- There is a tracing history that shows exactly how the child formed each letter
- Students hear the letter name, letter sound, and watch as the letter formation is traced
Since introducing this tool to my peer mentee’s student (as well as other students), he has moved from forming four cursive letters correctly on a consistent basis, to forming eighteen letters accurately. While this adaptive tool has been successful in “[supporting] student learning,” our biggest celebration is that not only do students use this app willingly, but they actually ask to practice this important skill (International Society for Technology in Education, 2011).
International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards: coaches. Retrieved June 29, 2011, from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches