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Writing is Recording Co:Writer from Don Johnston.

Kent Remund

In its most simple form, writing is recording; writing is a powerful way for humans to record and express ideas from an individual’s mind and can be kept for future generations to read.  Think of some of our greatest recorded writings from Twain, Dickens, Tolstoy and Dr. Seuss.

Writing in the school setting has change over the years. From chalk and slate, graphite pencils, pens, typewriters, computers, laptops and tablets.Students with disabilities have some powerful tools to assist them in recording their thoughts. 

For students with learning disabilities, it is difficult for them to get the words out. There's a wall between the idea and writing it out. Word recall is a barrier and grammar and spelling almost always get in the way. One of our favorite tools to help students overcome these barriers over the past decade is Co:Writer from Don Johnston.

If students can write just a fraction of what they want to say, Co:Writer will do the rest. The most basic feature of Co:Writer predicts what students are trying to say and offer word suggestions in real time. Even the worst spelling and grammar mistakes are not a problem for Co:Writer. In addition to prediction is the ability to add topic-specific vocabulary to which it uses to predicts words from. If a student were to write a paper on our solar system, a dictionary specific to the solar system could be added to the words that it will predict. The students starts to type "pl" and Co:Writer will predict “Planet” and “Pluto”  

Another feature is the ability for it to speak each letter, word and complete sentence as the student types. This allows them to check their writing through auditory feedback.  

Co:Writer is also a great tool for students that lack fine motor skills or range of motion challenges. Many students with cerebral palsy use the program with great success as it eliminates keystrokes with the word prediction.  

In the past, Co:Writer was only available on the PC for $189.00 per computer.vLast year it was released for apple devices for $34.99 (lifetime license). Don Johnston just released Co:Writer Universal which is $89.00 per year but has some great features that we love.  Co:Writer Universal uses the cloud to store its information and is available to access on a computer, iPhone, iPad or Chromebook. If a teacher were to set up a custom dictionary at school, the student can then log in to his/her account at home, and continue working on the same work from school. In addition, Co:Writer Universal now has some powerful data collection features for teachers and parents. It continually tracks which words and sentence the student is writing and compiles it in useful charts and graphs to monitor a full range of qualitative and productivity data. This data will help track writing skills and help set goals for the student. 


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