Friar William of Occam is often (mis)quoted as stating, “The simplest solution is the best solution.” While that is a poor translation of the original Latin, “Non sunt multiplicanda entia sine necessitate”, in the case of technology solutions to support specific writing needs, simplicity can indeed be a great approach. We need look no further than a grade 5 class in Port Alberni to see this in practice.
Wood Elementary is a small elementary school in the picturesque Alberni Valley. In Ms. Clark’s busy grade 5 class, students are beginning to use a word-cueing program called WordQ. WordQ is a simple, yet powerful text prediction and reading tool that works across all writing applications (Word, Google Docs, etc.).
December 2015 – Getting started
While still in the early days of use, students in Ms. Clark’s class are starting to see significant gains in their written output using WordQ.
Here is a 15-minute journal writing sample from a student prior to using WordQ. (Dec 11, 2015)
Five days later, the same student wrote a second journal entry, this time, using WordQ. (December 16, 2015)
As you can see, while still developing, the difference between the two writing samples is nothing short of astounding! The teacher reports that the student “loves using WordQ” and “is stoked to use it and have it on [a] laptop for writing”.
WordQ is now being rolled out with all students in the class and we are looking forward to documenting their successes (and challenges) as the year progresses.
May 2016 – UPDATE!
We are excited to bring you an update on how the students at Wood Elementary are doing! Back in January, we introduced you to Kristine Clark’s grade 3-4 class at Wood Elementary in the Alberni Valley (see above). At that time, she was beginning to use a writing-support program called WordQ, which can be used to provide a number of powerful supports such as word prediction and text-to-speech feedback.
The students are continuing to use WordQ as a class, and Kristine reports that, “their frustration levels have gone down, they see themselves as being successful, their written output has gone up, and their confidence is increasing – they are starting to see that they can “do” school…. For children who had to ask how EVERY SINGLE word was spelled, a program like this is a huge bonus for students and teachers. I’ve even had one family install it on their home computer and now homework comes back complete!”
When students taste writing success, they want more. Below is a writing sample from Edward, who has, with the help of WordQ, started to see himself as a writer:
January 4th (no assistance)
January 18th – 1st Attempt with WordQ
February 3rd – Using WordQ
It is so exciting to see how far these young writers have come in their written expression.