Homeschool Reading Specialist

Yes, you can teach your child to read!

Writing on Wednesday ~ Here’s My New Favorite Language Arts Activity!

on May 7, 2014

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I discovered a great way to practice grammar and writing skills! Dragon Dictation is an app that converts speech to text. I use it in two different ways. I allow my child to dictate a story into the phone or I dictate a portion of text from a book we are reading. Dragon converts what is spoken and types it onto the screen, however, there are no punctuations marks, only words! It’s an editing paradise!

Here’s how it works.  When you open the app, you see this screen.  Simply tap the red button and speak.

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As you speak, you will the screen below and you will know you are in recording mode. When you are finished, hit the “done” button.

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What you spoke into your device will come up on the screen with options to share or email the text. Email the text to your computer. Open your email, copy and paste the text into your word processing program and just like that, you have a fabulous language arts lesson!

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Why am I crazy about this idea? The primary reason is that using a child’s own language, especially when beginning to teach writing, it is fertile soil in which to cultivate the skills of grammar.  Because you are using the child’s language, they know what the text is supposed to say. They know the vocabulary. They know the flow, what happens next. The context is automatic. All you have to do as the teacher is select which skills you want to teach. Determining where sentences end and begin, placing periods at the end of sentences, capitalizing the first letter of each sentence, teaching about quotation marks, correcting spelling, the list could go on and on!

The other reason I like this idea is because staring at a blank piece of paper can be pretty intimidating to a beginning or reluctant writer. With this technique, the words are there already. It is also very likely that the story will be longer, more embellished, and contain more rich vocabulary than if they had to write out by hand what they wanted to say. Often times students will limit their writing to what they can spell correctly [which, by the way, breaks my heart and makes me want write a post on how to get kids to take a risk and write….hey, that sounds like a good title, “Take a Risk and Write”]. Sorry for the random detour.  When students limit their writing to only what they know they can get correct, they miss out on so many wonderful learning opportunities.  Don’t use those red pens on a child’s first writing attempts, please.

Just a couple notes: I am sure there are other apps that convert speech to text. Check them out before you select one. Dragon is just the one that I know and use.  Also, it will take the app a few times to learn your voice. In the beginning some of the word choices can be quite hilarious, but can still be used a means of teaching editing skills.


2 responses to “Writing on Wednesday ~ Here’s My New Favorite Language Arts Activity!

  1. I love your insight with regards to children being encouraged to just write and to not limit their writings to words they know how to spell! I have been encouraging Lela to start a blog, she’s a gifted writer, but she’s procrastinating and I’m sure fear is the culprit! She wrote a beautiful story for her history class this year about a young slave girl and it moved me to tears and had me hanging on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t wait to see what her teacher’s feedback was going to be, well the paper came back with a 90 and “red marks” due to run-on sentences. It broke my heart.

  2. Aw, Michelle. That makes me sad. Lela is so sweet. I have a post planned about red pens!

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Homeschool Reading Specialist

Yes, you can teach your child to read!

This Reading Mama

a developmental approach to literacy

The Measured Mom

Yes, you can teach your child to read!

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