Technology Spelling Tools for Students with Dyslexia: A Review of Ginger
written by: Anne Vize
• edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch
• updated: 8/2/2012
For older students with dyslexia, spelling and writing easily can become the stuff of nightmares into the high school years, when workloads increase and there is a need for greater independence. Strategies for older students with dyslexia often involve technology, and Ginger is a hot new option.
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When High School Gets Difficult - Dyslexia Tripping Up the Learning
At the high school level, learning can become problematic for a young person with dyslexia. He or she can find that the sheer volume of work provided, along with the tighter timelines and increasing requirements for personal organization and learning control, can all become overwhelming. Some young people may drop out of school at this point, often after a few run-ins with teachers over work performance, deadlines that have not been met and assignments that have not been completed.
Peer group pressure often becomes more of an issue at this age, and there is the ever-present risk of bullying, which can also get in the way of focused and effective learning and teaching. For a young person with dyslexia it can seem very daunting to sit down to a computer screen and struggle to read and engage with online content, particularly when their peers are sitting right next to them appearing to do so easily and without effort. It is important to develop some dyslexia learning strategies for the student that relate specifically to his own condition and which he feels will be powerful and empowering.
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Ginger is a neat new software option that appears to work particularly well for people with dyslexia. It is a well-thought-out software, and it is easy to use and operate. It does much more than function as a spell checker: Anyone with dyslexia will tell you that basic spell checking programs are helpful, but only do part of the job. If you are thinking about giving Ginger a go with a particular student group or individual learner, there is a helpful sentence sampler that allows you to trial Ginger against a sample sentence that you enter for correction. Here are some examples that I have tried:
kan yoo tel me ware the bus stopp is pleas? (text entered)
Can you tell me where the bus stop is pleased?
wot did yoo brung me four my lunchx (text entered)
What did you bring me for my lunches?
I hav brot my teest paper four yo to corect (text entered)
I have brought my test paper for you to correct
Note that several words in the above text were highlighted as having alternative spellings available depending on sentence context (for example, 'stop' or 'stops' were both available options).
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Advantages For an Older Student Group
One of the main advantages of introducing a program such as Ginger to an older student group that's managing learning difficulties such as dyslexia is that it serves to empower the student. It places the focus of control firmly in their domain.
Students who are adolescent and beyond ideally are taking charge of their own learning in literacy, numeracy, vocational subjects and learning directions. These students are able to take charge of their dyslexia learning strategies and work out what works well for them, based on informed research and information from trained and qualified teachers and therapists, as well as people who know about and understand dyslexia.
They are also becoming independent learners who know what sort of learning style suits them best and what tools are going to work well to suit their needs. Obviously Ginger is not going to be for every learner, but it is a useful tool to know about as a teacher so that you can better inform your students about their options.