My original question was whether or not technology was effective in the aid of struggling readers. The answer to this question was simple, yes, it is an extremely useful tool for struggling readers in the elementary setting. I narrowed down my question to: What technology is effective in aiding struggling readers in the classroom and in the home setting. This was a really fun topic for me to explore given my personal connection.
At first I struggled to nail down specific programs or websites, because I just was not sure what I was looking for and what was legit and useful. So, I decided to research what made struggling readers struggle. This was an important part of my research because it enabled me to understand the causes of reading disabilities and to locate and recognize effective and ineffective programs, apps and websites. Once I understood the topic at a deeper level, I dug right in. I found award winning programs used in schools around the country, some of which utilized technology in their approach and others that did not. I Was able to find a slew of apps for free to be used in the classroom and also at home. The apps were engaging and really caught the interest of readers from what I was able to tell. I also found resources at the public library for families with out access to technology at home, all of which were free and covered the main characteristics of a good reading program. I was thrilled with the free website I found that could be used in all avenues; classroom, home, portable devices and on a home computer; Scootpad.
If I had more time and resources, I would learn more about the programs specifically designed for the classroom. Through my research I discovered that some of these programs required intense teacher training for implementation in the classroom. I would love to be apart of something like this. Helping struggling readers is definitely a passion of mine and I could really take this topic to a much deeper level if given the time and opportunity.
I really loved this 20 percent project. This is the first time that I have been able to pick the topic I wanted to research without some kind of restraint. I felt like I could dig as deep as I wanted to find the answers to my questions. Which ultimately meant I dug deeper because it was about something I was interested in. I really hope that I can participate in another 20 percent topic sometime in my college carrier and I look forward to trying something like this in my future classroom, too.
I think learners will be able to benefit from this project in various ways. Students can, like I have done, research something that they find interesting. This can make a huge difference in the type of research they do and the information the collect and compile. I would not mind trying this kind of activity with fourth or fifth graders and have it set up in a similar way as this project was constructed with periodic submission dates, etc. Learners might also be able to uncover hidden passion while researching a 20 percent project in addition. This project is fantastic.
While this project is fantastic for me and I can imagine other students, as well. It might be hard for students who lack drive or motivation. If it is implemented well, this project can have great outcomes. But, if execution of this project is not done well, the project may prove to be difficult for some learners. Students might have a hard time picking a topic or figuring out where to start once a topic has been chosen. It is important, just as implemented in this course, that the teacher be available to help students along the way when they struggle at certain points.
All in all, I am a fan of the 20 percent project!