Thursday, June 11, 2009

Instrument Evaluation: Can I be Frank(lin) with you?

This is a Franklin Children's Talking Dictionary and Spell Corrector. If you've never seen or used one before, the Franklin Children's Talking Dictionary and Spell Corrector is an interactive dictionary that will:

Improve your child's reading and writing skills. It includes over 40,000 easy-to-understand definitions, automatic phonetic spell correction, an animated handwriting guide, a rhyme finder, five word-building games, and a vocabulary word list that can be created by the user.

To determine if this tool could be an appropriate assistive technology device for a student, you should consider the following:

The classroom is an ideal location to observe a student using this tool. It is a low tech device that could be easily integrated into the general education classroom during various subjects and groupings. With regard to evaluating the tool with a student, an observer may want to compare how long it takes the student look up definitions in the dictionary with how long it takes the student to use the Franklin Spell Checker.

While this tool could benefit students with learning disabilities as well as speech/language impairments, fine motor deficits could impede on the success of the student with this device since the keyboard is very tiny.

Since this device is portable and has headphone jacks for privacy, this device could be easily integrated into any learning environment. Students will need training on using the various functions found on the device through guided instruction and practice. This tool would be beneficial for a student that was not able to master the use of a cumbersome dictionary at the same pace as his/her peers. It achieves the same goal of defining words, but at a more productive speed.

This device is recommended for students from six to ten years old, however, older students may find this device appealing. The ten year olds that I work with often fight over who gets to use the spell checker since they find it a quick and easy resource to look up definitions and/or to practice their spelling skills. Another student used it primarily for cursive instruction with the animated handwriting guide.

As a teacher, I recognize the positive impact that vocabulary and spelling instruction have on learning. As a special education teacher, I understand how frustrating it is for a child that functions below grade to use a dictionary. I have found this assistive technology tool to be a nice alternative to the challenges involved with defining words the old fashioned way for students with high incidence disabilities.

Some additional benefits of this instrument include the personal spelling/vocabulary list that students can independently upload into the spell checker. These lists can be used with the five word building games on the machine and can be very motivating to students that learn through play. Another benefit is the homophone guide and rhyme finder.

At least one problem with the Franklin Children's Talking Dictionary and Spell Corrector is that despite it's general durability, the device does not withstand gravity well. Students need to be careful with this $49.95 tool in order for it to last, however, teachers can order carrying cases for it for $14.95.

If I had my way, I would recreate a more durable Franklin Children's Talking Dictionary and Spell Corrector. Other than that, I believe that a device like this has the potential to improve the learning of any student that uses it. For a student with reading deficits, this tool will speak words, define them, and spell them out in cursive all from the comfort of their own seat. If he/she has headphones, the student can independently, quickly and privately pursue their own learning without adult interference. Any device that increases opportunities for independent success like this should be considered when determining a student's assistive technology needs.

1 comment:

Talking Electronic Dictionary said...

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then you'll find there's no better way for kids to build their vocabulary than with the Children's Talking Dictionary.