Why Writing Apps are Necessary
Writing… some find it easy, others find it incredibly difficult. Writing apps can be useful to either group.
Those who find writing easy are usually able to keep thoughts flowing inside and express them onto paper without much difficulty.
Those who find writing difficult may be too busy trying to remember how to spell a word and end up forgetting the rest of a sentence that they were about to write. They may not retain their thoughts simply because the focus becomes on the laborious tasks of trying their best to spell the words, remember punctuation, what the letters look like, which letters make which sounds, remember what they were thinking about, remember the question they are to answer, etc.
These individuals see others around them simply writing with no apparent difficulty.
Yet. their. struggle. is. so. real.
Some will give up. Others will keep going.
Without writing apps to help, few will succeed with getting their thoughts onto the page in a fluent manner that truly expresses all they are able to express.
If the goal is to create an even playing field, then it is imperative that those who need it have access to tools and apps that can help get their knowledge out.
One of the significant goals within a school should be to determine what students know. In my opinion, this should not be based on the conditions of first knowing how to form each letter, remember what each letter represents, having an incredible working memory, being able to spell easily, etc. Writing apps are absolutely necessary to help the struggling writer to express themselves adequately without becoming overly frustrated.
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What are some writing apps that can help?
The best writing apps will vary from person to person based on individual preferences and needs. Included below are six of my personal favorites that can easily be used within a school and across many devices:
Google Docs has a few tools within the program that can help many. Individuals can type using their speech to text feature. To get to this, simply go to Tools, then click on Voice Typing (there will be a microphone beside it). More information can be found here. Please note that this only works within the Chrome browser.
In my experience, people either love speech to text or hate it. It is important to speak in a clear, fluent manner. When it comes to punctuation, either say “period,” “comma,” or “question mark” and it will insert them for you. I think it is important to just blurt out what is being said and later use another app to read it back to you. You can review suggested edits within Google Docs or use it interchangeably with a program like Ginger Page for suggested edits.
Spelling and Suggested Edits can also be found under Tools. If working with children, please teach them not to simply press ignore for each of the suggestions. Teach them how to use the tools to their advantage. Haha, I have worked with a few students that believed as long as they made the colored lines go away, it must be good. Ignoring makes the lines go away, but it may or may not be good. 😉
Read&Write for Google Chrome:
Read&Write is an extension that can be put onto Google Chrome or used with other apps. Read&Write has many features such as word prediction, dictionaries (both written and picture versions), text to speech, reading of PDF or screenshot, speech to text, highlighting, building vocabulary lists, etc. You can access that program here.
There is a free (show up as green in link) and premium version. The premium version is free for the first 30 days. A lot of schools have licenses for this, so definitely ask about it if it is for a student. It is important to note that you MUST be signed in on Google Chrome itself to use it. This program works nicely with Google Docs and also can read text from websites aloud as well with the screenshot reader.
To learn more about all of Read&Write’s features, check out this video.
This can be an app that you download or can be put on a laptop as a Chrome extension. Ginger Page has flexibility in that it can be used on your desktop, web and mobile apps. A change on one device can be synced for all devices.
One downside is that Ginger Page cannot be used to write within Google Docs. It has its own platform called Ginger Writer for document writing.
Ginger Page does well in picking up what the sentences and words are meant to be as long as the beginning letter or sound is correct. I would suggest using it if you want your writing corrected for spelling and grammar. You can then check it by having your work read back to you using the Screenshot reader within Read&Write. You could also cut and paste the corrected writing into a Google Doc and use an app or extension such as Read&Write to read it back to you in there to make sure it makes sense.
A short video about the features of Ginger Page can be found here.
SnapType Pro allows one to take a photo of a worksheet from a tablet or phone and type or do speech to text directly within the photo.
It can then be saved and sent directly to a teacher or someone else. SnapType Pro is free to use with up to 3 documents at a time. If the microphone is not showing up for speech to text, watch this video for help.
Voice Search is a Google Chrome extension that allows one to do a Google search by speaking into the microphone rather than having to type it out. Of course, this can be done even easier without the extension on a Smartphone or tablet not to mention a chat with Alexa or Siri 😉 I thought it was worth a mention, however, if you or your child ever use a desktop.
Mercury Reader is a Google Chrome extension that is beneficial for the reading portion of an internet-based research task. It takes the ads and excess noise out of an article or post, allowing the reader to focus on what is important. It also keeps the relevant pictures of the page for the visual learner.
Mercury Reader works once on an article or specific page and their “rocket” is clicked on. Font type and size can be adjusted within the program. The reader can also choose to have the page display on a light or dark background. For more information about this, please watch this short video. Mercury Reader can work with the Screenshot Reader in Read&Write if the preference is now for the article or page contents to be read aloud.
Please let me know what your favorites are by commenting below. Happy writing! 🙂