Third and fourth graders identified with learning disabilities are taught to use Co:Writer. Co:Writer includes FlexSpell, which lets youngsters begin words phonetically or cue initial letter combinations. Co-Writer also features a total vocabulary system that provides topic-specific dictionaries, a personal dictionary, and a dictionary toolkit.
But the computer doesn't do all of the work for the young writers. Students review options on the screen, listen to words as they're pronounced aloud, and then choose words they believe are a correct fit for their written work.
"Many of these kids are beginning to show improvement in grammatical development, word prediction, and sequencing," says Cinda Rachow, who works closely with Riverside's special education students. The district fades out Co:Writer in middle school unless a student still needs it. "We watch kids carefully and ask them, 'How do you think it's going?'" says Rachow. "Kids are always integral players in assessing their progress."