Combining Technology and Paper


I want to talk about one way I combine technology and paper.

There has been a tremendous push towards technology. The makers of the tech products would love it if we got rid of paper. Plus, kids love tech. Adults love tech. I love it but I still use a paper calendar. I set alerts on my phone. My regularly scheduled therapy sessions are in Outlook, for all to see. The stuff that no one else needs to see, goes on the paper calendar. I use my paper calendar to plan therapy sessions and to track my never-ending To-Do List.

Penmanship is no longer a priority in education. That’s not new news. But why do I get so many questions, referrals and requests for assistance? Students still do much of their work on paper. The kinesthetic aspect of writing is important but often ignored. Many of us learn best through motor action or doing. I had a boss that use to say, “watch it and then do it”. I was learning how to make splints. Handwriting is doing.

Students have to be able to write before they can write. Students who struggle with handwriting are often reluctant writers. They write as little as possible because handwriting has not had enough instruction or practice. Once handwriting is learned the quality of their written work often improves. Technology and paper can be combined, the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

I have students who truly have delayed visual-motor skills and need the assistance of technology. My goal for those students is to get them writing well enough to complete simple worksheets by hand and type anything longer than a sentence.

So, I’ve been working on combining my worksheets and handwriting apps. I use the app from Zaner-Bloser most of the time. This combination has been especially useful for my students who haven’t established a consistent motor-plan for writing letters. The app provides the visual and the writing provides the kinesthetic or motor aspect. The students are able to work more independently with the app to assist with instruction. They can choose to watch formation instruction or just get hints on how to make a letter before writing it. It’s great to watch students work with less assistance from me and be really motivated to complete a handwriting worksheet. Sometimes, they do become more focused on the app and need reminders to keep working on the writing. When it comes together, it’s very exciting.

Here’s a picture of how it works. I have written a sentence for the student to copy on the marker board. The student is independently using the app for instruction and writing on paper. I have found it helpful to put the sentence or letters being copied and the iPad on a slant board.

student copying a sentence

This next photo, the student is working completing a sight word worksheet. There isn’t anything written on the marker board. Sometimes, I will write on the marker board for additional assistance. The student choose to watch instruction for the lowercase i.

student writing sight words

So, those are two examples of how I combine technology and paper. I have plugged the iPad into a Smart Board for whole class or group instruction. The students can write on paper or on a marker boards. There are lots of possibilities.

Thanks for Reading!

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