Talk-to-text program helps Cedar Rapids students prepare for school

By Sarah McCarthy, KCRG-TV9

CEDAR RAPIDS — A group of students at Roosevelt Middle School are working on sharpening their writing skills before the school year begins.

It’s a part of a two-day boot camp that’s teaching kids how to use a talk to text software program.

“It used to be that kids could use technology like this in the classroom, but they would stand out,” Kiersten Hensley. an instructor at the camp, said. “But now, all the students have technology right at their fingertips.”

Hensley said kids in the camp are learning how to use ‘Dragon Naturally Speaking’ and ‘Co-Writer.’ The first allows kids to talk into a headset and the software transcribes those words onto a computer document. ‘Co-Writer’ predicts what words a student will type next and gives them a list of potential words to use next.

Hensley said both programs help kids that are slow at physically writing, struggle with spelling, and even those with disabilities like dyslexia.

“I think the big thing for some of these students is giving them some success, so once they start to be successful in writing, then they get more comfortable with it,” Hensley said. “Now some of these students are helping each other.”

One student, Olivia Prochnow, said the talk to text program has helped her raise her grades and cut her homework time in half.

“It was really easy for me because I talk a lot but I don’t really write a lot,” Prochnow said.

This is her second year participating in the program. She said she plans to use the software during the school year to help with projects and papers.

“They’ll give you the project and you’ll go on the computer, and you’ll do it,” she said. “I just type it down and I’m good.”

The camp is sponsored by the University of Iowa’s College of Education.

Schools officials say they hope to continue the camp in the future.

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