Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Watching Kids Write, 3.5

Another little story ...

Years ago--as computers were beginning to appear in classrooms (though not yet in mine)--I used to have the kids write pen-or-pencil drafts of pieces in class.  I spread dictionaries around the room so that they could save me some grading time later on.

And, sometimes (especially in the Proficiency Test years), I would give them practice tests--writing for 30 minutes or so on a surprise prompt.  (Dictionaries still available.)

Well, one year, a young man (an awful speller, by the way) asked me during one of the writing periods if he could use his little electronic spell-checker--it looked something like the picture, though much lower-tech in those days.  Basically, you entered the word in a spelling you thought was correct, and the device would present you with some options.

Example: You type pancke; it supplies pancake, peacenik, panache, punk, etc.

Anyway, I saw no reason not to let him.  And the writing began.

A few minutes later, his hand was in the air.  I went over to him.  He showed me a screen that listed a half-dozen options or so.

"Yes?" I asked.

He pointed to the screen.  "Which one do I want?" he asked.

And so I got another lesson: Dictionaries and spell-checkers help only people who are decent spellers to begin with.


Another little device we had in the class before there were lots of computers available--the AlphaSmart.  Basically, it was a word-processing keyboard with a bit of memory; its little screen displayed a couple of lines of text.  You could--via a connecting cable--move the text, later, to a computer.

When I first saw the AlphaSmarts, I thought they must have been invented by someone who was OmegaDumb.  But I got used to them--found ways to use them.  I was surprised to see on Google that they're still available ...

No comments:

Post a Comment