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Using Text To Speech Technology To Assist Dyslexic Students

Davis Graham wanted to participate. His teachers could not understand why he was so resistant to learning. He almost completely gave up on his education. Mr. Graham, a life-long dyslexia advocate, has dyslexia and he was not alone. Eighty percent of children who have a learning disability are also impacted by dyslexia. This is a staggering number of students.

With technology we can tackle some of the challenges facing these students. Even changing how we view these differences.

I asked a friend of mine, Tony Wright, who has two children with dyslexia, what he would change in the world of education. He said we need a change in perception because, “In a perfect world, my children’s learning differences would be accepted as differences, not disabilities. Their peers would understand that they think differently. That they are not inferior. Also, they would be able to be accommodated without disruption to their day. Of course, they have a father who loves reading. I want my kids to enjoy reading. In a perfect world, my kids would be just able to be normal kids and given the chance to excel and succeed in whatever their talent is. I think that’s what most parents want as well.”

With increased early screening we could identify more children who struggle with dyslexia. Early screening could provide a pathway to learning with Text to Speech technology (TTS) and could even lead to a decrease in our total IEP costs. TTS in schools creates an excellent opportunity for a huge impact in schools with very limited budgets.

With regard to how we view reading and writing in education, Mr. Graham points out, “It’s a crossroads. [We should] say look, you can dictate it with speech to text or you can consume it by text to speech or the reading acceleration program.”

The point is the challenges caused by dyslexia in reading and writing can be alleviated. Cost savings for IEPs would be realized in both the short and long-term. Providing students access to TTS technology is the most efficient solution in solving reading challenges that dyslexic students face. In the long-run, districts will see improved comprehension and less frustrating outbursts from students. Very often we see a decrease in the need for assistance from teachers and better test scores often follow. All of these elements combined lead to a positive net impact on students, teachers and schools with limited budgets.

“In the Education delivery system, text to speech will level the hurdles of the printed word in any language, providing a level playing field for all students,” says Mr. Graham.

Despite being severely dyslexic, Mr. Graham went on to receive his Master of Science in Health and Medical Informatics from Brandeis University. When he was diagnosed with dyslexia in the late 60’s, his road to achieving educational success was a long, winding path. With support from many educators along the way, he became passionate about providing access to various content for those who also suffer with dyslexia. Mr. Graham found Bookshare, an ebook library, and began listening to volumes of books converted from a written format to an audio format. This is a life changing experience for someone willing to learn, but who lacks the ability to just sit down and read. Enter the mobile age and the explosion of access to content for those with dyslexia, and we begin to see innovative solutions in solving learning disabilities.

Along with internet access and either a mobile device or tablet, any student with dyslexia can access TTS technology. TTS is not new, but it is dramatically improved over the years.

The increase in processing speed and decrease in costs over time, has allowed for dramatic improvements to TTS technology. Now with programs like Dragon Dictate or Google’s Dictation.io, students can speak into a microphone, or use a dictation feature to “write” papers or take tests.

The problem goes beyond just improving grades

Research by Jean Cheng Gorman, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist who studied youth suicides in 1998, found a staggering 50% of students who unfortunately end their lives have a learning disability, and 40% suffer from dyslexia. There is yet to be a research study showing TTS technology having a causal impact on decreasing suicide. However, helping alleviate barriers to knowledge, while decreasing frustration with learning, will have a positive impact on all student’s lives.

Beyond cost savings, the significance in learning to each student is tremendous. As a child, I personally was slow to read, but I don’t remember when I suddenly “learned” how to read. The act of reading is so automatic for most people, that it is hard for most people to imagine what it would be like to lack the ability to read. Providing solutions to these problems can help make some students feel empowered to learn again. TTS can change the lives of those students who need help with managing dyslexia.

 

Jabez LeBret is Chief of Schools at Sisu Academy, the first tuition-free private boarding high school in California. Cofounder of two companies he is also a regular Millennial Management speaker.

Jabez is embarking on a mission to change the lives of local high school students by opening the first tuition-free boarding high school with a self-funding model in Cal…

Source: Using Text To Speech Technology To Assist Dyslexic Students

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How To Beat Procrastination (Backed by Science) – Darius Foroux – Pocket

Procrastination has been around since the start of modern civilization. Historical figures like Herodotus, Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Benjamin Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt, and hundreds of others have talked about how procrastination is the enemy of results. One of my favorite quotes about procrastination is from Abraham Lincoln: “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today…….

Source: How To Beat Procrastination (Backed by Science) – Darius Foroux – Pocket

7 Ways to Achieve High Levels of Classroom Productivity – Lee Watanabe-Crockett

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When it comes to classroom productivity, the ideal classroom is a happy one. It means students are creating solutions and projects that have meaning and purpose. They gladly take initiatives and assume responsible ownership of class time. Above all, it means students are loving their learning.

Achieving high levels of classroom productivity means making sure students are interested and invested in tasks that develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving abilities. Not only are they involved in constructive pursuits and being given mindful assessments, they are learning independence and accountability and having a blast doing it. Now that’s learning with a purpose.

The joy a teacher gets from knowing students look forward to coming to class is indescribable. It’s one of those things you have to experience to understand. The good news is every teacher can have that feeling. These classroom productivity tips are applicable to many classroom environments. Hopefully, they help you in yours.

7 Pathways to Better Classroom Productivity

It’s easy to confuse productivity with speed of output. That’s not the essence of being productive. We can complete 100 trivial tasks in a day and say we were productive, but is that really true? What do we have to show at the end of the day? What have we done besides waste time on unimportant matters? Can we say “I really accomplished something today” and mean it?

Productivity isn’t about “getting stuff done.” It’s about getting stuff done with purpose.

You can always tell the level of interest students have. It can be used to help you measure productivity levels:

  • Are students focused and engaged?
  • Are they happy and attentive?
  • Are they asking deep, meaningful questions?
  • Are they excited about showing the results of their work?
  • Are they talking about their work with peers and parents?
  • Are they challenging themselves and each other to improve?

These are all traits of a productive classroom. Granted, there’s no specific formula for higher productivity. You can, however, use critical observation to decide what approach you could use

1. Build a Safe Space

Everyone deserves the chance to learn in a supportive environment. This applies to both intellectual and emotional classroom elements. Any classroom should make every student feel welcome. Maybe this means a time for peer-to-peer orientation. You can give students time to get to know each other and connect personally.

It could also mean creating a class mission statement of some kind. The focus of this would be things like:

  • We always support each other in and out of class
  • We always encourage each other and remain kind
  • We are a judgement-free classroom where all are welcome
  • We show we care by setting an example for the whole school

Begin learning adventures with the notion that learning is meant to be enjoyable. Part of this is creating a comfortable and supportive classroom. Anything that impacts a student positively in your classroom will help boost their productivity. Take some pointers from Brian Van Dyck, a middle school teacher in Santa Cruz.

2. Give Students a Say

Students are no different from anyone else. They like to know their opinions count for something. Letting students weigh in on how to use their class time can be valuable to fostering a productivity mindset. Don’t worry, this approach doesn’t mean they’ll waste time without supervision. You can do this while still keeping the structured direction central to any classroom. Open with questions geared toward productivity with breathing room:

Open with questions geared toward productivity with breathing room:

  • How do you feel your time would best be spent on today’s work/assignment?
  • What’s the one part of (insert project here) that you feel you need to focus on?
  • If you’re ahead, how can you help someone else with today’s work?
  • What do you think should be done first, and last?

Obviously, you as the teacher have the final say. That said, some heartfelt answers from students can help you choose how best to spend the class time.

3. Focus on Guiding Questions

As the work begins or continues, keep them thinking. Our modern students love to be challenged. Keep them guessing and thinking by asking about their projects. Show an interest in what they’re doing.

  • Why did they choose to approach the project this way?
  • What speaks to them about it?
  • If they’re stuck, how can they switch direction?
  • Do they feel there is any way they can make it even better?

4. Always Be Available

From time to time, students will struggle and this will happen on many different levels. When it does, they’ll need support and encouragement. They’ll get stuck, and that will give rise to technical questions, concerns, and doubts. They’ll feel pressure to keep up with their classmates. They’ll feel inadequacy, confusion, and frustration. They’ll feel like what they’ve done has been a waste. They’ll feel these things and a lot more.

Students are no different from anyone else. They like to know their opinions count for something.

Sometimes they’ll look for every reason to quit when they know they should go on. It will feel to them like the world is ending. It can happen with schoolwork and with personal matters. Eventually, it will likely all find its way into the classroom environment. Fortunately, that’s the heart of change.

With an open mind and the right words, you can turn that all around. Never be far away, because you’re still the best guide students have in their school experiences.

5. Encourage Collaboration

This is a hallmark of the modern student. They are natural-born collaborators and love working in groups. The secret to successful collaboration is when students are drawing on their individual strengths. They then find ways to harmonize those strengths in a group setting. A group work aspect to any classroom almost always means good things in terms of classroom productivity.

6. Offer Good Distractions

Every teacher knows that too many distractions in class can be harmful. Distractions, however, can be beneficial depending on the type. If they’re scheduled in the process, it’s even better. In this sense, they become more like rejuvenators and focus-sharpeners.

Here are some examples of beneficial distractions in class:

  • getting up to stretch, move around, and focus on nothing for a moment
  • eye/stretch/exercise breaks if working on computers
  • have students quickly check in with where they’re at on projects
  • story/joke breaks for some quick comic relief
  • schedule an assignment-related Q+A with a surprise class visitor

Here are some more great “distraction” ideas from Dr. Lori Desautels.

7. Let Students Self- and Peer-Assess

Self- and peer-assessment support comes from both students and teachers. Encouraging reflection and self-assessment adds a powerful dimension to learning. It reduces a teacher’s workload and lets students effectively demonstrate understanding. Students are honest in their assessment of their performance and that of their peers.

With this kind of assessment, students’ insights and observations are valued. It helps them understand the process of their own learning. It also reinforces the importance of collaboration.

Reflective practice is something both students and teachers should engage in. It lets you consider your actions and reflect on decisions. It solidifies learning concepts. It also helps you consider and plan future processes and actions.

 

 

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