Help Getting Organized


Can you suggest some technology solutions to help my child with organization?

B. Simms, Muncie, IN

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Laura Snow, Assistive Technology Graduate Student

Laura Snow has an MS in Special Education Assistive Technology and is Orton-Gillingham trained.

With so many technology options available, it’s best to first zero in on your child’s particular situation. The widely-used SETT model developed by Joy Zabala will help address that issue.

SETT stands for Student (strengths/needs), Environment (school or home), Tasks (what the student needs to accomplish or participate in), and the Tools needed to accomplish the tasks. The idea is that gathering information in these four SETT areas will help you and your child’s team decide what (if any) technology will be most useful.

Examples of questions to clarify what would be most helpful are:

  • What task is the student having difficulty with?
  • What grade is the student in?
  • How is the student’s handwriting?
  • Can the student type?
  • What technology is available in the classroom or at home?

Keeping the SETT model in mind, students with LD often find Digital Graphic Organizers helpful. These tools are suggested for students who have difficulties in organizing ideas for writing assignments or information for studying. Here are some Graphic Organizers to consider:

  • Kidspiration is a popular, robust graphic organizer program that is geared toward elementary school students who have access to a computer or an iPad. This organizer has pre-made templates. One of the strong points of this app is that it can convert visual graphics to an outline mode. You can access a free trial before you buy on the Kidspiration website. The version for middle- and high-school students is called Inspiration.
  • Draft:Builder by Don Johnston Company is another robust graphic organizer desktop program with a talking spell checker and talking dictionary. There are three modules in this graphic organizer: outlining, note-taking, and draft-writing.
  • us is a simple, free, web-based graphic organizer that works on desktop and mobile platforms. It allows sharing and collaboration with other users.

Digital Planners and electronic to-do lists are other options for organizing homework and schedules. Below are some apps and programs in these categories:

  • Visual Schedule Planner is a customizable visual planner for the iPad that is designed to give an audio/visual calendar of the events of the day.
  • My Homework is a digital student planner that is available for iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows and the Web.

Keep in mind that simple solutions also can work well. For instance, students can send themselves emails about homework or use the built-in Reminders app in iOS for a to-do list.

In general, there are many technology options available these days and new and improved versions are constantly appearing. Focusing on the tasks the student needs to do and the other SETT criteria will help you make a good decision concerning technology and your child.

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