Gadgets for EdGeeks: Speech-Recognition Software

Sometimes I find it breathtaking how technologically advanced the world has become. Today there are a variety of speech-recognition and text-to-speech software programs that are being used in many capacities including business, healthcare and thank goodness for us…education. This will be the first of multiple posts featuring software programs that assist with speech, language and writing. Today I want to highlight one program that is changing the way we teach and learn.

Tech Tool: Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Home

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Home

Description: Dragon is a speech-recognition software program that allows you to speak words that are translated into text at a much faster rate than most people can type. It is available for Mac, PC, Iphone, Blackberry and Android.

Application in the Classroom: This tool can be used in any classroom with student desktops, laptops, or Ipads. You can teach students to use Dragon to dictate stories, essays, notes, etc. Dragon can help students get their ideas down on paper before they are forgotten. The text can then be used to support the student in writing his/her complete piece.

Concrete Examples of In-Classroom Use: One might say that using Dragon is like having a personal scribe — one who is extremely speedy and accurate! This technology has many implications in the classroom. This type of program can be used during writing activities to assist: hesitant writers who struggle with the mechanics of writing, English Language Learners, students with learning disabilities and students with motor limitations. Use Dragon to:

  • Support a student make an outline during a writing activity
  • Support a student use greater detail during a writing activity
  • Support a student who struggles with spelling
  • Make writing accessible to all students in your classroom!
Concrete Examples of At-Home Use: You may consider using Dragon at home for a variety of reasons including:
  • If your child writes very slowly and homework takes FOREVER
  • If your child is a hesitant writer
  • If your child struggles with the mechanics of writing
  • If your child has motor limitations
  • If your child is a hesitant writer who is motivated by technology

Appropriate Grade Levels: Grade 1-Forever

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Reading Pens

Today’s post is about a cool gadget called the reading pen. Reading pens are appropriate for children of all ages and even adults! This particular video is of a reading pen that was developed for younger children but if you scroll down you will see versions of this technology with a design appropriate for older students and adults…so keep reading!

I’m not sure how familiar you are with the book “Walter the Farting Dog” but it’s pretty hilarious and always sure to be a crowd pleaser with the little folks. This video cracks me up and is a great “Reading Pens 101” tutorial…

What is a Reading Pen? A reading pen is a portable device that can scan text and read it aloud. Many reading pens also have a dictionary function where new or unknown words can be defined. A reading pen can connect to a computer so that the reader may upload the words they read after each use. Challenging words can then be stored for future use.

Who Can Benefit From a Reading Pen? Reading pens are often marketed specifically for English Language Learners, students with learning disabilities, students with dyslexia or individuals who struggle with reading. All of the above would benefit from the use of a reading pen but I also propose that this tool could be used as enrichment. If your child is reading at a high level and loves a great challenge, or reading the newspaper, he/she may benefit from use of a reading pen to support vocabulary development.

For all of the teachers reading this post, imagine if the students in your class had access to a reading pen! If your class had a shared reading pen, it could go in the reference section of your library and act as another reference tool for students. If you are at a school with greater access to resources, you might be able to order one for each table so students could share while they read. Imagine the possibilities with a tool that assists learners with both pronunciation and definitions for new words.

Today, a wide variety of reading pens are available. One particular company, Wizcom makes many different styles and models. Some of them even have translation functions, which may come in very handy for families and/or students who are learning English.

 Here are three reading pens designed for younger students:

VTechKids Bugsby Reading Pen[amazon-product image=”″ type=”image”]B001T2ZWLU[/amazon-product] LeapFrog Tag[amazon-product image=”″ type=”image”]B003JQV9LG[/amazon-product] Franklin Anybook Reader[amazon-product image=”″ type=”image”]B004C0839Y[/amazon-product]

 Here are three reading pens designed for older students and/or adults:

Wizcom Portable Reading Tutor[amazon-product image=”″ type=”image”]B002HJ28EI[/amazon-product] Wizcom Quicktionary Pen Scanner[amazon-product image=”″ type=”image”]B004F56IR0[/amazon-product] IRIS Pen Scanner[amazon-product image=”″ type=”image”]B000SQNVTI[/amazon-product]

Special Note: It is important to ensure that the reading pen does not become a crutch. A student should always try tackling a tricky word themselves before asking for adult assistance or using a device like the reading pen. This gadget should be used as a support system but not a crutch.

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