ReaderPens' User Stories in Primary and High School
Portable, discreet, reliable: in a previous post we looked at how the self-contained C-Pen ReaderPens addressed needs for older students with dyslexia or other learning challenges in key transitions: high-school to post-secondary, work placements and adult learners.
In this post we share real world experiences of ReaderPens deployments in elementary school to grade 12. Often this is when reading challenges first become apparent or a dyslexia diagnosis is applied. For young learners the timeliness and discretion of an intervention are critical factors to success.
Handheld devices that scan books or worksheets of text have been around for a very long time – since the mid 1990’s or so. But even scanners that have the form factor of a highlighter, can be a challenge for young users, with small hands, still building fine motor skills.
Unlike other pen scanners the C-Pen ReaderPens work easily and reliably. Where other devices, the speed of motion, angle of device, paper, lighting, bend in the book, all create issues for success, the C-Pen ReaderPens, just work.
Stacy Falconer a teacher at the Halton District School Board has observed:
"The pens are very intuitive, it was so fun to watch them open up a whole new set of opportunities. I have students who will offer to read aloud during a shared novel and it’s because they have got the ReaderPen, they can scan a word that they think might be difficult prior to having to share their thoughts, they just listen to it and continue going. There is not one student in my classroom who hasn’t improved in their reading levels dramatically, it’s just that tool that travels with them all the time and they have so much confidence in it that they don’t see it as an extension beyond their own brain, they see it as a part of their ability to read"
Simplicity of design makes this a robust solution in real world settings. Other portable tools on tablets or phones often rely on a connection to the cloud. The purpose built ReaderPen has all its functionality on board and ready in an instant at any time.
"I have utilized the ReaderPens with students in my school and love the fact that we don’t need Wi-Fi to use them. Their use has alleviated student anxiety, is a great tool to boost students’ confidence, and has allowed them to obtain a level of independence by using the text to speech ReaderPen to access printed content."
Susan Deley a SERT at Pelican Falls First Nation High School
Complimenting iPads, PC’s
Versatility and portability are very important to reduce the friction of using an intervention. An AT specialist in Calgary Alberta sees the ReaderPen as a complimentary tool to computer-based text to speech.
"It is not unusual to spot a student using text to speech software on their computer at our school. But, some content is difficult to present to students in a digital format.
Scanning textbooks, worksheets and novel studies is time consuming and not always feasible, not to mention that the formatting is not always kept intact. Using the ReaderPen at our school has given students greater independence and frees up Educational Assistant’s time for other students.
Cathi Graveline, Assistive Technology Specialist Foothills Academy
Jeff Hockett, a Resource Consultant for a school district in the Peterborough-Northumberland region of Ontario, supports students who have access to iPads, too. But his students chose to use the C-Pens to look-up definitions of words, decode larger, difficult words or even to check pronunciation because “the Scanning Pen is smaller and more convenient.”
Educators in Nova Scotia have noticed similar results.
“The ReaderPens have been a huge support to many of our at-risk students in elementary school. Students with learning disabilities are able to access content material and grade level work, that they normally would have difficulty accessing. Ease of use, portability and the durability of the ReaderPen are proving extremely beneficial in promoting student independence."
Leon Swinkels, Assistive Technology Specialist,
Halifax Regional Centre for Education
Immediacy Hooks Students
No matter how powerful, no tool can work if the user themselves, doesn’t believe in it. Students get hooked by the immediate success, that the ReaderPen delivers.
"The ReaderPen helped me while reading some books I was stuck on, I really struggled with books but now I can read books with lots of pages because of the ReaderPen”
Lily, Student, Halton DSB
"I can just scan a word on the page with the pen and it will read it to me perfectly and it sticks in my head”
Ryan, Student, Halton DSB
An educator, Kim MacKinnon found the ReaderPens “amazing” for her child diagnosed with Dyslexia. Using it just for words she found difficult the sense of pride and relief for Kim’s daughter were immediately apparent. When she told her mother, "I don't need you anymore Mommy, I can do it on my own,” Kim almost cried.
She went onto say:
I am also a teacher and Technology Integration Coach, and I only wish I had this product at my disposal to help some of my struggling readers when I was in the classroom! It would be a game changer for children who never feel success because they can't keep up with the class.
How Much Room is on Your Student’s Desk?
Recently, a teacher pointed out to one of our in-school assistive technology trainers that a laptop becomes very difficult to make workable in a math class.
Imagine a standard student desk. Now imagine a notebook, a big math textbook for reference and a handout with question, and a calculator or ruler, or protractor etc. then try to fit a laptop in the middle.
The ReaderPens make text to speech support possible and practicable in many school day scenarios that would challenge a laptop.
Natalie Walker, a teacher in Mississauga, has noticed how the ReaderPens have helped English Language Learners who now use it regularly in math too.
“they (the ELL students) have strong oral skills but not strong reading skills. It has been particularly helpful in math - where there is a lot of language content and once, they understand the question, they can do the activity"
We’ll leave the last word to a few of the many Canadian educators that have been a part of successful deployments of C-Pen ReaderPens as a key assistive technology to address reading challenges including dyslexia.
Our students love to use scanning pens as assistive technology for reading. They came highly recommended to us by an Educational Psychologist. The results have been amazing. Our students are now experiencing success with their reading and enjoy using ReaderPens.
Angela Levasseur & April Buck - Certified High School Resource Teachers Nisichawayasihk Neyo Ohtinwak Collegiate in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation
“I had a grade 8 student, who is reading at a level 4, use the pen on Friday to access information from a Holocaust book. His grade 8 class is discussing the Holocaust and he has shown a great interest. He was excited to be able to "read" the book, and said, "That pen’s pretty cool!"
Resource Teacher - Simcoe County District School Board
- Bogdan Pospielovsky