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Language skills are learned through a combination of exposure, instruction and experimentation. When children first learn to speak, they repeat what they hear, make inferences about the rules they are learning, and test these inferences over and over as their linguistic skills grow. When kids learn to read and write, however, the model used is generally exposure and instruction, with much of the discovery and experimentation ignored. This method works well for many children, but it may not work for all children. In addition, it may not be the easiest or best way to teach kids to read and write.
Dr. Peet's Talk/Writer attempts to use a word processor, along with text to speech technology, to add the discovery and experimentation to teaching children to read and write. Children hear each letter, word and sentence spoken, as they type. They can string letters together and get immediate feedback on the words that are formed. They can create journal entries, write letters and compose emails, and with each activity their understanding of the general rules of phonics will grow.
Talk/Writer offers special features for children with visual and physical challenges. When options aimed at visually challenged children are selected, Talk/Writer not only speaks each letter and word, but also announces cursor movements and all punctuation. In addition, Talk/Writer can be set to say each letter when depressed once, and type the letter only when depressed a second time. Scanning is available for Single-Switch Access users (also see Edmark's TouchFree Switch). Letters scan at a rate chosen by the teacher or user, and any device that will trigger a left mouse click can be used to select the desired letter.
The school version of this program comes with a flipbook Activities Guide that can be placed beside the computer for handy access.
The program itself includes a user's manual and help module which is accessed from the guide button at the top of the main screen. Online tech support is sparse, but our questions were enthusiastically answered over the phone by Dr. Peet himself!
PC: Windows 95/98, 2000, 210 MB hard drive space, full multi-media, CD-ROM drive.return to top of page
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