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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Ready, Set, Write!

Sophomore+Reagan+Werner+and+senior+Madison+Paul+lead+the+technology+portion+of+Ready%2C+Set%2C+Write%21
Provided

Sophomore Reagan Werner and senior Madison Paul lead the technology portion of Ready, Set, Write!

Texas A&M professors are exploring the applications of technology in elementary school classrooms.
The research program Ready, Set, Write! compares traditional teaching methods to programs that use apps to teach struggling second-grade writers. Associate professors Li-Jen Kuo and Quentin Dixon from the department of teaching, learning and culture started a 10-week program with students from three Bryan ISD schools — Fannin, Henderson and Bonham Elementary. One school received intervention in the form of traditional writing instruction, one school supplemented their education with speech-to-text, spell check and drawing apps, while the final school was the control group. 
The study ran for the first time from November 2017 to March 2018 and repeated in fall 2018. The control group will receive the intervention with technology this semester after all data has been collected, so that the experiment is not interrupted and students can still benefit from the technological improvements that were utilized. 
“We chose second grade because there is a lot less research on the writing process in the lower grade levels,” Dixon said. “We wanted to take a look at an under-researched area and see if intervening at an early stage would have beneficial effects, making the children better prepared for additional writing instruction later on.”
 At Henderson — the school that implemented technological teaching methods — the students spent 90 minutes, twice per week rotating through three centers designed to improve vocabulary, grammar and punctuation. 
Doctoral student and graduate research assistant Stephanie Moody designed the curriculum used in each after-school intervention.
“The biggest challenge we ran into was the apps themselves,” Moody said. “The developers think they know how to make apps for children, but they don’t, especially for English Language Learners. The voice detecting feature will not always pick up the words of 
kids with thick accents or little kids who speak too fast or quietly. These are issues a teacher would have to plan ahead to manage.”
Despite this technical difficulty, researchers said the use of technology reduced problems students had with handwriting, spelling or grammar, and helped them maintain focus with storytelling.
“It’s too soon to tell the results until we do a full analysis on the data, but the preliminary results are really good,” Moody said. “We’ve seen an increase in several areas like length and vocabulary diversity as well as overall growth in holistic writing scores. The project has been really well-received in schools. It’s contributed to a good relation between Bryan ISD schools and Texas A&M.” 
Interdisciplinary studies senior Sophia Galvin studies early childhood education and was the first undergraduate student to be involved in the project. 
Galvin is a lead teacher for the after-school program and said it is a great experience for the kids, and gave teachers hands-on experience in the classroom.
“The best part of working on the project was the people I met,” Galvin said. “Dr. Kuo and Dr. Dixon are highly regarded scholars in their field and amazing mentors. They were so welcoming and accommodating, and Stephanie Moody single-handedly prepared me to be a good teacher.”
Galvin and interdisciplinary studies senior Layne Poole received first place and the Outstanding Writing Award at Student Research week for their case study from Ready, Set, Write! 
Galvin is presenting the study at the Southwest Educational Research Association conference in San Antonio from Feb. 6-8.
“I’m a little biased, but I think it will have a huge impact if [the results] get published,” Galvin said. “I’ve seen the impact it’s had on second graders. I’ve seen firsthand all students improve in writing. It’s amazing to watch. If the information gets out there in the hands of teachers, it will be incredibly helpful.”

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