This Morning’s Miracle

Fall Winter 2012 889

Snow Angels During Pep Talk

“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.


About pjsarahcollins

teacher, author, reader
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3 Responses to This Morning’s Miracle

  1. Darlene says:

    This is indeed a miracle. It proves that technology can be very benificial. I have no doubt he wins a prize or two!

  2. tanya kyi says:

    You should include a warning when your blog post’s going to make me cry! 🙂

  3. Here’s exactly how this worked for my son:

    He brought an older iPad with case, Pages, and keyboard to school. We also set him up with an email account. Initially he used it the device for keyboarding a document then emailing it to me to help him check it over, then to submit it to his teacher. He like how the work look immediately because he wasn’t proud of his penmanship and his writing usually contained quite a few red-flag errors like missing punctuations, erratic placement of capitals, and sounds in words that showed a lack of phonetic understanding.

    He became more efficient at typing through the year and more masterful of using the spell helper to check his work. I would use the highlighter on his emailed copy to help him see where capitals and periods, commas, and punctuation marks would go.

    His teacher also had a device and they used the following apps to send and return documents: Showbie, Dropbox, and Flick (our favourite). Towards the end of the year he discovered the app “Write on PDF.” His teacher would take a picture of any worksheet, then Flick it to his iPad, which he would complete, then Flick back to her, thus bypassing the need to use a printer. He also became very adept at iMovie for presentations and enjoyed learning how to make iBooks. We also used Audible to download the book he had to read for his novel study. In this way he could hear the book and follow along, or review chapters of study. Explain Everything was also very good.

    His marks going form a C- to a B in one year owed to the fact that he is very Type-A, had no distracting games on his device during school time, was proud of the vast improvement in the work quality he was able to produce, found his content was being noticed more than his lack of conventions and that gave him a huge boost, and had a teacher who was eager to learn along with him (because she and I were part of a pilot project investigating how iPads could be best used in school.)
    Thanks for reading!

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