Last week I had the opportunity to go into two separate special education classrooms and teach the students how to use Google Docs.
More specifically, I was there to teach students how to use the Speech to Text, or “Voice Typing” program, as Google calls it. Click here to see the Google Doc I made to teach the kids how to use Google Docs (It's Googleception!)
The main reason the teachers and I decided to try this out with their students is because although they can talk on and on, and on again... Some of them are just not able to hold a thought long enough to get it onto paper.
With that reasoning, we decided to attempt a Tier 2 RTI collaborative training in and self contained grades K-2 class and a self contained grades 3-5 class. Both classes are considered to be for students with mild to moderate disabilities (mostly students with specific learning disabilities, autism, and mild intellectual disabilities).
Just to be clear, daily handwriting instruction is also continuing to occur in both classes, but we wanted to introduce the students to speech to text programs as well, considering it is a possible accommodation on the California state tests.
We were a bit hesitant with some of the kindergarten and 1st grade students, but even they, with their tech savvy minds, picked up on the knowledge quickly.
This is indeed a RTI tier 2 intervention as it is being conducted on a per class basis versus a full school or district wide scale. Even though it was conducted in a special education classroom, not all of the students receive OT or assistive technology services. Thus, we introduced a group specific intervention based upon teacher’s concerns that her kids are not able to express themselves through paper and pencil activities.
Going forward, a tier 1 strategy may be providing a In service to all teachers about google docs. Alternatively, a tier 3 strategy may be a similar lesson, but in a smaller group or with an individual student through an SST process.
If this specific tier 2 activity does not work, A tier 3 intervention could be having a group of students who need more assistance with remembering the alphabet still, saying the letters to Google.
Now, when it comes to writing with pencil and paper, there is no doubt that it is a necessity to know. And we have no intention in replacing tier 1 writing with pencil and paper instruction from their daily routines. However, in the classrooms we often find that a student’s weakness in one area related to writing holds them back from excelling in other areas.
For example, Johnny uses a functional pencil grasp, has nice legibility, and understands punctuation use. However, he rarely completes a sentence due to not remembering the end of the sentence by time he gets to writing it. Brian, on the other hand, is able to come up with ideas and remember them like nobody’s business, but despite years of handwriting remediation, he continues to struggle in forming half of the alphabet. And yet another student gets frustrated by not being able to spell correctly.
All of these students have strengths. Unfortunately though, often times those strengths don’t get to shine because of one area of weakness pulling them down.
This is why I have decided to embrace technology. Plus, in my opinion, speech to text is on the verge of no longer be considered an “adapted tool”. It is used by millions, if not billions, of people every day on their phones. So why hold out on our students?
How to use Google Docs and the Voice Typing Program
For those of you who are not familiar with Google Docs and it's abilities, I have put together a video showing you how to access Google Docs and the voice typing program within it. I promise you, it’s super easy!
There are 3 things you need to have before pressing play though:
A Google/Gmail account
The Google Chrome Browser installed on your computer (most computers have this now) If you don't have it, it can be installed here! (It's free)
And a built in or plugged in microphone. If there is a camera on your laptop, there is a mic as well. (an iPad/iPhone will not work for this process, you must be using a computer/laptop)
With that, I’d like to share my video with you.
Click here to view the Google Docs Graphic Organizer. Although designed to be used for a 5 paragraph essay, you could easily change it to a 5 sentence/single paragraph organizer.
I hope you find this video and post useful. This is my first time audio taping myself, so I naturally cannot stand how it sounds, but I do think the content is well worth it if you are looking for a free speech to text program that works very well for both you and your students.
Google’s ability to understand has far surpassed Apple’s Siri in my opinion. In fact, I used Google’s speech to text last week with another student who can be difficult to understand at times due to a lisp, but Google was able to hear him pretty well.
With that said, I hope the voice typing will work well with whichever student(s) or classroom you were thinking of while reading this post. Let us know below if you have any questions.
And to each and everyone of you, thank you for your support. Abby and I truly appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation with you all through this website.
Until next time,
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