If you took the time to explore the different resources available you will notice that a lot of the key features between the different programs are the same. Features like speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and predictive text are powerful and versatile tools to help your student with writing and reading. This page highlights some popular strategies that many of our students use when writing with these features.
Text-to-speech for Editing-- Have your student use text-to-speech to have their writing read back to them. This will help them catch mistakes.
Single Word Text-to-speech-- You don't have to have everything read back out loud. Sometimes hearing a challenge word read out-loud is all the support a student needs.
Checks for Understanding-- When listening to longer passages using text-to-speech it is important to check in with the student to make sure the student is still following along. Having the student activate the text to speech for each sentence or agreeing on stopping points to ask comprehension questions can really help the student retain what they read.
Adjust the Speed-- Make sure to adjust the speed of the voice to something that is comfortable to the student.
Improving Accuracy-- Modern speech-to-text (STT) software is quite accurate for dictating most voices and an external microphone is usually not required. Here are some of the top tips to increase increase the accuracy.
Turn off STT when you're not speaking. This is the biggest issue for most students.
Know what you're going to say before you're going to say it. This prevents "umms" and "ahhhs".
Sit at a normal distance to your tablet or computer.
Speak single words. It's easier to pronounce a word by itself than in a sentence. The
Speak naturally as you would in conversation.
Practice. Sometimes practicing using STT separate from an assignment helps the student use it when they're mind is focused on school work. =
Single Word Dictation-- Sometimes all you need is help spelling a word. If speaking whole sentences is too much support try this.
Help Handwritten Work-- When working on handwritten work a student can dictate to a computer and copy it down.
Reinforce Punctuation-- Have your student say "period" or "full stop" at the end of their sentence for a fun way to reinforce remembering to add punctuation.
Always check your work-- STT is quite accurate and will occasionally make mistakes. Make sure that it wrote down what you meant to say.
Speak in Sentence Fragments-- If its too hard to remember a whole sentence it is ok to speak what you remember. Pause the STT. Think. And start again.
Predictive Text Strategies
Remind Your Student-- Students often need reminders to use predictive text.
Type the first three letters-- If your student is a slow typist and a phonetic speller it is often useful to ask them to type three letters before checking the predictions
Attach or Detach the Prediction Box from the Cursor-- If a student is getting distracted by the suggestions or relying upon predictive text too much it can help to detach the predictive text box from the cursor and move it to the side of the screen. Laptops only.
Guided Access to Turn Prediction Into a Word Bank-- On iOS you can block the student from touch the prediction bar thereby turning the predictive text into a wordbank. iPad/iPhone only.
Establishing a "try rule"-- If predictive text doesn't guess your word that is ok. Try speaking it with dictation or ask for help. Or just rely on the spell check to underline it and come back later.
Develop Strategies Together-- Your student is usually the best judge of which strategies will help and which won't. Encourage them to try things but give them ownership over how they use their tools.
Give Help Not Answers-- Remind your student to use the tools to help themselves rather than asking you for answers.
Drafts Are Supposed To Have Mistakes-- When writing first drafts encourage the student to mark their mistakes and move on. Don't Let it stop their writing!
Reward On Task Behavior-- Everyone gets distracted, especially on computers. It's easy to see and correct distraction but remember to notice and praise working!
Scheduling a Chat with an Assistive Technologist
An Assistive Technologist can help you figure out how to support a student's specific needs.
Common issues we help with are students who need additional supports in order to read, write, or do math. Access issues due to limited mobility are also something we can help address. If in doubt, feel free to continue scheduling a meeting through this form as we would like to do our best to help you or connect you with someone who can.
If you're looking for access to computers or internet for a student please follow this link to the Technology Resources for Families Page
If you're a parent looking for information about how to work with your student at home please follow this link to the Student and Family Learning Resource Page
If you want to speak with an SFUSD Assistive Technologist please follow this link to Schedule a Meeting with an Assistive Technologist.
This form is open to teachers, parents/guardians, students or anyone supporting an SFUSD student.