“Can I read you the rest of my story, Mom?”
It’s five-thirty and I’m waiting for the truck to warm up, defrost on high. It’s a foggy morning and my blurry, pre-dawn thoughts are focused on staying awake more than tracking with a story. But his chirpy enthusiasm is enough for both of us; he reads with fluency and expression in the strong voice of his character, filling in the back-story as necessary, probing me for research points, asking me how self-publishing works, ribbing me that his book will win two awards, unlike mine. I wake up to this morning’s not-so-little miracle, brought to me by… technology.
My son has dyslexia and dysgraphia with a healthy dose of ADHD. Over the years we’ve been faithful with tutoring, medication, and speech-language therapy but we haven’t yet been able to crack the C minus ceiling above his Language Arts mark. Last year in Grade 5, we both had access to iPads—his through a gift using my brother’s Save-On More points, mine through my principal—and we both began to explore the potential of this technology. He used his at home as a toy; I became part of a pilot project committed to exploring ways, beyond content apps, that these devices could increase student engagement. I was hopeful that, as a teacher, I’d eventually become the expert but have since surrendered to the fact that most six year-olds discover in five minutes what adults do in an hour. I also realized that we were both vastly under-using what we had been given. So this September, we erased the games off his iPad and allowed him to purchase (with his summer reward money) the necessary keyboard attachment and Pages software to enable the iPad to be his substitutionary pencil.
The results are incredible! He uses his iPad for every subject but PE and Math and manages his own homework daily, emailing his assignments to me when he wants help with editing, or to his teacher when it’s due. He keeps track of his schedule each morning, reminding us when his team—or mine—have games. His confidence has blossomed with his level of increased responsibility. And he actually loves reading and writing, evidenced by this morning’s early commute. As we pull up to the rink, I realize something wonderful: whatever the upcoming report card declares, his latest story says it all.