Q: Hi I work with elementary level students. isn't dragon too difficult for them? I want to work on reading fluency using kurzweil files, but I cannot figure how to do the process where students read the passage into a microphone, and then it is rechecked thru kurzweil?
A: There is research for children as young as age nine that indicates that those with reading disorders (dyslexia) who use Dragon to dictate their essays create essays that are indistinguishable (read byindependent "blind" readers) from those created with non-disabled students. As far as I am concerned, that is a powerful message. If children are too young or otherwise unable to use Dragon, then the school is obligated to provide human scribes to take dictation for them so that they can have accommodated access to creating a written product and thus demonstrating what they know. Keyboarding on a computer or using an Alphasmart are not appropriate ways for accommodating writing for those with reading or spelling disorders.
I believe it is essential to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking (voice recognition) and Kurzweil3000 (text to speech) for access to the regular, mainstream curriculum at the same time those students receive appropriate, research-validated reading remediation.
I would not recommend using Dragon dictation for fluency drills. Fluency is generally measured as speed of reading passages as well as accuracy of the words read, and neither Dragon nor Kurweil would measure either component. Dragon does not misspell, but it may misrecognize "ice cream" as "I scream." I believe that it is essential to utilize standardized measures of reading decoding, fluency, and comprehension for any student identified as having a reading disorder.
I've found that it is often a challenge to help school administrations "get it" as far as what is appropriate for working with special needs children. Both parents as well as teachers need to help administrators learn about the benefits and necessary access that technology can provide.