Calling technology into play

Computer Time

August 25, 1999|By Susan Rapp

Assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment or system that enables students to learn better and faster and that helps students bypass, work around or compensate for learning difficulties.

* Word processing enables the student to type text directly into the computer and to edit with spell check or grammar check. This frees the user to concentrate on what she wants to express.

* A speech synthesizer together with a screen review enables the student to hear text on the computer screen spoken aloud.

* A speech recognition system allows the student to operate the computer by speaking to it.

* A hand-held spell checker can be carried in a pocket and enables the student to edit spelling or change words using the thesaurus.

* Personal data managers can be used in lieu of assignment notebooks to help students keep track of their schedule and homework.

When choosing technology programs:

* Include your child in the selection process. Take into account your child's interest and knowledge of technology.

* Find out about the program or system before you invest. Ask others who have used it, including teachers and media specialists.

* Before buying, try out the product at the store, school or neighborhood library.

* Look through the manual to make sure directions are easy to follow and that the product is easy to use and maintain. subhed:

Educational software

Selecting educational software from the staggering array on the market requires research and perseverance. Here are some highly rated multimedia favorites from Susan Rapp and from this month's issue of Scholastic's Instructor magazine (prices range from $30 to $50):

* Arthur's Reading (ages 4-7): Children join Arthur and his classmates on an interactive play adventure at school. Contains 2 CD-ROMs.

* Dr. Seuss Preschool and Kindergarten Reading: Introduces basic reading skills with your host The Fox in Socks. Children apply skills with the favorite Seuss book, "Green Eggs and Ham." Both programs are available from The Learning Company at 1-800-716-8506;

* The Magic School Bus series (grades 1-5): Kids love this interactive science series starring the zany Ms. Frizzle. They play games and are invited to explore everything from the ocean to the solar system. Scholastic: 800-542-4240;

* Let's Go Read! 2: An Ocean Adventure (ages 5-7): Robbie, Emily and the Reading Rover take your child on a reading journey under the sea. Children enjoy exciting activities and interactive storybooks. Edmark: 800-426-0856;

* Math Blaster series, Knowledge Adventure (grades 1-6): Tried-and-true favorite engages students in a variety of interactive games as they develop math skills and solve basic problems. Call: 800-542-4240;

* My First Amazing World Explorer 2.0 (grades K-4): Fun and easy-to-use program teaches geography skills at the earliest of school ages. DK Multimedia:

* The Print Shop Deluxe 6.0 (grades K and up): Allows children to produce cards, posters newsletters and even Web pages. Broderbund: 800-521-6263;

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